Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Timmy Dooley TD is calling on the Government to conduct full independent expert review of the tendering process for the National Broadband Plan.

Deputy Dooley made the comments in advance of the party’s Private Members Business motion due to be debated in the Dáil this evening.

Deputy Dooley said, “Promised in 2011 for delivery in 2016, delayed until 2023, and now in doubt – the NBP has been a very significant failure by this Government. Minister Naughten has presided over 20 months of failure and now 542,000 homes, schools and businesses have no access to decent broadband with no prospects of connection on the horizon.

“Fianna Fáil has always maintained that the State would have to intervene to ensure decent broadband services are delivered to all homes in the State. The Government decided to take a different approach by entirely relying on the private market. This plan has now backfired with private operators turning their back on the Government plan, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes in the lurch.

“There is a very real possibility that the rollout of this plan could unravel entirely. Despite this Minister Naughten seems to want to keep his head down and plough on with his current failing strategy, telling us that everything is fine. Fianna Fáil is calling for a full independent expert review of the tendering process, to be concluded within two months, to determine whether a change in approach is needed.

“It makes sense now to review the process to determine whether or not it is fit for purpose. This review can be concluded in two months and should in no way delay the ultimate delivery of the NBP. Failure to review the process could result in the NBP failing entirely in the years ahead. Such a situation would be catastrophic. The National Competitiveness Council has already stated that regional job growth is being stymied by the lack of broadband connectivity.

“The Government needs to significantly up its game, stop the spin and confront the reality of the situation that they have allowed to develop” concluded Deputy Dooley.