Thursday 15 November 2018

Fianna Fail says Government would be 'foolhardy and foolish' not to review broadband tender process

Fianna Fáil communications spokesman Timmy Dooley Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fáil communications spokesman Timmy Dooley Photo: Tom Burke
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Fianna Fáil has warned the government would be “foolhardy and foolish” not to carry out a review of the National Broadband Plan after Eir pulled out of the running for a government tender last week.

The party has tabled a Dáil motion on the matter because of what it considers a two-tier internet landscape in Ireland, where rural areas rank among the worst-served areas in all of Europe.

Communications spokesperson Timmy Dooley criticised the government and said it was time for Minister Denis Naughten to put his vanity to one side and review the process that has seen the government left with one bidder for the rollout of broadband to 540,000 homes.

“We are calling on the government to carry out an immediate independent review of the process to date,” said Mr Dooley.

“We are deeply concerned about the viability of the tender now in light of the fact that three of the most experienced companies in the state, from a telecommunications and infrastructure rollout perspective, have withdrawn from the process.

“To just stand idly by and not recognise what has happened is foolhardy and foolish. I think there comes a time when the minister must put a side his vanity here and recognise there is a very significant problem.”

Eir pulled out of the running for the government tender last week, just months after a joint bid by Vodafone and the ESB opted not to pursue the contract. This means Enet said it and its consortium partner, SSE, are the only group continuing to engage with the Department of Communications on the plan.

Mr Dooley said the review would not necessarily delay any ongoing work linked to the project.

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