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Minister stands over ‘fantastic project’ of broadband rollout despite ‘every single target missed’

A minister has said that he is happy to stand over the “fantastic project” that is the National Broadband plan despite claims by opposition politicians that “every single target” has been missed.

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith said that the rollout of the plan has been a “disgrace” and slapped down Green Party minister Ossian Smyth for comparing it to the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in the Dáil.

The National Broadband plan has seen much criticism in recent years for the speed at which it is being rolled out and targets being missed of homes and businesses getting connected to it.

National Broadband Ireland (NBI), which oversees the project, yesterday told TDs and Senators that it has passed just 34,000 homes earmarked for the scheme and that it would take until the end of March to hit the 60,000 target.

Junior Minister Ossian Smyth, who has responsibility to oversee its rollout, told the Dáil today that he is doing “everything” to get the plan “back on track and then to get it faster”.

He also compared the rollout of the plan to the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“I’m somebody who, a year ago, was very optimistic about the rollout of the vaccination programme and at that time, everybody felt it was going to take years,” he told the Dáil.

Deputy Smith said the rollout of the broadband plan is a “debacle” and asked the minister how he can “stand over” it.

“One every level, it fails at every metric. It is an absolute disgrace,” she said.

“The reason I can politically stand over it is that it brings huge tangible benefits all around the country. I think it is a fantastic project,” said Minister Smyth.

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Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy said that the rollout of the plan has missed every target.

“I’m concerned with the general attitude that has been taken by Government, with the fact that the NBI has missed every single target that was set for it up until this point. That’s not acceptable,” he told the Dáil.

Minister Smyth also vowed to apply “all penalties that are due” on missed targets.


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