Micheál Martin slams delivery of broadband plan as 'shambolic'
FIANNA Fáil leader Micheál Martin has slammed the delivery of the government's plans for rural broadband as "shambolic".
Speaking in the Dáil he accused the government of missing "deadline, after deadline after deadline" and criticised the failure to provide a date for when the procurement process will be completed.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, meanwhile, defended the government's record on broadband emphasising the detailed discussions ongoing around what he said is a "enormous contract" and adding: "We want to make sure we get it right".
He said 50pc of households and business have broadband and this will rise to more than 75pc by the end of 2018.
The goal is for 90pc to 100pc of premises to be covered by 2020/2021.
Mr Varadkar also referenced the 300,000 homes where broadband will be provided by Eir.
Mr Martin said the government should stop trying to claim credit for what a private company is doing.
He said the commitment in the programme for government to aware the contract by June 2017 "has gone by the wayside".
He claimed that the needs of rural households and businesses are being "denied and dismissed by this shambolic approach on delivering a national plan".
He said it's now looking like it will be 2019 or 2020 before the commencement of the plan.
Mr Martin raised concern over the impact of the ultimate broadband contract of deal that sees Eir providing broadband to 300,000.
And he also asked if the further 540,000 premises are "going to be waiting until infinity before anything happens?"
Mr Varadkar said Eir is a private company and they've identified 300,000 premises where they believe they can provide high-speed broadband on a commercial basis at no cost to the taxpayer.
He said that's "very welcome".
Mr Varadkar said providing high speed broadband to the further 540,000 premises will require government intervention and he said "we're determined to do that as quickly as we possibly can".
But he added: "we do have to follow proper procedures and proper procurement rules."
He said: "It's an enormous contract and I would hope there'll be a number of bidders for it and that it will be awarded as soon as possible."
He said: "Any delays will be minimised and we're absolutely committed to ensuring that every premises in Ireland has access to high speed broadband."