Dublin City Councillor and General Election candidate, Paul McAuliffe has accused Dublin City Council of being short-sighted in rejecting his proposal to install Wi-Fi hotspots in senior citizen complexes run by the City Council across the city.
The proposed plan would have given older residents access to high speed broadband as part of their tenancy agreement, and would see local community development teams providing training in routine tasks such as online banking and paying utility bills.
In a response to a question tabled by Cllr McAuliffe, the Chief Executive of Dublin City Council confirmed that there are no longer plans to provide Wi-Fi access to those living in senior citizen complexes managed by the authority.
Commenting on the decision, Cllr McAuliffe said, “I am really disappointed that the Council has decided not to progress with this worthwhile project.
“The growing digital divide in our society is becoming a real concern and it is essential that we establish and promote more opportunities for older people to develop the skillset that would enable them to participate online.
“The leading interest group, Age Action Ireland has recognised that digital access is essential for older people so that they can participate fully in society and remain independent for longer.
“Older people are the most digitally excluded group in Ireland – less than 20% of those aged over 65 and only one third of Irish 50-64 year olds are digitally literate.
“Yet, despite the low percentage of older internet users, there is huge demand for training tailored to the interests and pace of older learners.
“I believe that providing the elderly with direct access to the web would not only offer support; it would also assist the Smart Dublin team who are tasked with implementing a strategy to drive technical innovation.
“The provision of Wi-Fi in senior citizen complexes could be a test bed for new ideas including monitoring medicine usage or low cost CCTV security.
He concluded, “The possibilities are endless and I think the council are missing a real opportunity.”