Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Timmy Dooley has said that the failure of the Government to deliver high speed, quality broadband to communities in rural Ireland has been highlighted again.

“Nearly two months after the decision of Vodafone to withdraw from the tender process for the NBP, the 542,000 households, farmers and students who desperately need broadband are still without any confirmation as to when they will get connected.

“Earlier this morning, we had the ludicrous situation of the Agriculture Minister speaking about farmers going online to check on fodder supplies in other counties.

“Did no one in the Government stop to think that these farmers, living in some of the most isolated parts of the country, aren’t able to get connected to broadband?

“Thousands of households and businesses in the country are waiting for Minister Naughten to get his act together, sign a contract and allow the sole remaining bidder, eNet get on with the job of rolling out high speed broadband.

“This week there are over 100,000 Junior and Leaving Certificate students at home studying for their examinations. Much of their study now requires access to the internet. Unfortunately, due to Minister Naughten’s ineptitude, many of them are being forced to go elsewhere to study.

“We have the embarrassing scenario of teenagers being forced to spend hour upon hour in McDonald’s restaurants just to be able to study properly.

“These are just two examples of how the failure of this government over the past six years, and the failure of Minister Naughten over the past two years, is affecting ordinary people.

“Action is needed, not hollow rhetoric, from Minister Naughten. It’s time to finish the tendering process, sign the contract, agree timelines and give the hundreds of thousands of people in rural Ireland what they desperately need,” concluded Dooley.