Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary says the government’s incompetence is risking jobs and economic growth in the rural areas.  The latest fiasco is the decision by Eir to withdraw from the tender process for the National Broadband Plan, putting the very future of broadband rollout in doubt.

Deputy Calleary explained, “It is blatantly clear that this government has no real interest in rural Ireland.  We hear token noises every so often but the reality of the situation is that there is still a massive urban-rural divide, with the bulk of investment still being directed towards Dublin and the major cities.  Counties like Mayo have seen very little in terms of infrastructure projects or jobs announcements, and this new threat to the National Broadband Plan will only further stymy progress.

“Broadband is an essential service – and thousands of homes and businesses across Mayo are still waiting on a connection.  This latest setback could be the most recent rollout target of 2023 pushed out further – which is completely unacceptable.

“As if the broadband blockade wasn’t evidence enough of the government’s complete disregard for rural Ireland, its draft National Planning Framework paints a very clear picture.  The North West is completely excluded from the plan – in fact nowhere north of Galway or Dublin gets a look in.  Ministers appear determined to push all economic activity into cities and large towns, while leaving rural communities to flounder.

“This plan is flawed and fails to adopt a policy of balanced regional development – the fact that a third of the country is not included in the current draft is a clear indication of where the government’s priorities lie.  With Brexit fast approaching, it has never been more important to develop a long term approach to long term planning.  Mayo and the North West could be left exposed unless the NPF is seriously modified to include the border and North West regions.

“The two-tier economy needs to be rebalanced as a matter of urgency, and I along with my colleagues have put forward detailed submissions, which provides for a National Infrastructure Commission, a balanced regional and all-island approach  and a rural housing plan.  We will be continuing to press our plan to ensure that the current imbalance is addressed”.