St Kevin’s National School, Wicklow.
The National Broadband Plan contract being signed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister Richard Bruton and National Broadband Ireland’s David McCourt among St Kevin’s sixth class students.
Pics: Merrion Street
From top: Denis O’Brien; Minister for Communications Richard Bruton; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with David McCourt; McCourt with former Minister for Communications Denis Naughten; Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy
It’s expected that the Minister for Communications Richard Bruton will bring a memo to Cabinet this morning, recommending that the contract from the National Broadband Plan is signed.
Further to this…
The Social Democrats is calling for a Dáil vote before the contract is signed.
TD Catherine Murphy, co-founder of the Social Democrats, writes:
“The National Broadband Plan carries an unprecedented risk for the State where the Government will hand over a huge amount of public funding, following a flawed process, to a private company for an asset that the State won’t own, with no guarantees in regard to value for money.
“Signing the contract could put the State in financial jeopardy.
“It is essential that the Dáil get to see the precise detail of what the Government is signing up to, and vote on it, prior to the Government giving away so much of the public money for what seems to be so little in the long term.
“How can the Government, on behalf of taxpayers, heavily subsidise infrastructure only to hand it over to private entity, who’s only concern will be profit margins.
“What will the eventual cost be to those who need broadband? To the State in subsidies?
“The broadband network is a vital national asset that will underpin our economy for the future. It is imperative that all people and businesses have access to reliable, high-speed broadband.
“But when the UK and Australia talk about re-nationalising their broadband networks in order to ensure that it is a public good accessible by everyone, surely it’s time to shout stop, and assess how we go about it properly here in Ireland.”
Hugh O’Connell, in the Irish Independent reports:
Fianna Fáil is set to effectively drop its opposition to the controversial €3bn National Broadband Plan (NBP) that will leave thousands of homes and businesses in rural Ireland waiting up to seven years for high-speed internet.
The opposition party has admitted that once Fine Gael signs the broadband contract, it may cost taxpayers even more by attempting to break it. The plan is being given final approval by ministers at a special early-morning Cabinet meeting today after it cleared the final regulatory hurdle with the European Commission last week.
National Broadband Ireland (NBI) has told the Government it will take an estimated seven years to roll out broadband to the 540,000 homes and businesses.
Previously: No Cause For Concern
Richard Bruton tweetz:
Today is a historic day for rural Ireland. The government are signing the national broadband contract, which will bring high-speed broadband to the 1.1M people across Ireland who can’t get access.
This is the biggest investment in rural Ireland since rural electrification. It will ensure rural communities will not be left behind and will be guaranteed the same opportunities as urban areas.