Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon has warned the government that jobs will be lost in unless urgent action is taken to roll out high speed broadband to rural areas.  The lack of broadband is one of the biggest issues facing rural Ireland and is threatening jobs and industry.

Deputy Scanlon commented, “The government’s handling of the National Broadband Plan has been completely shambolic.  Four Ministers have headed up the Department of Communications since the strategy was first announced in 2012 and yet we still have a situation where large parts of rural Ireland are not connected.

“The only broadband that is being rolled out is by private operators.  The government plan is simply not working.  Here in Sligo-Leitrim, 41% of the constituency is still waiting for access to a high speed connection.  Five years after the plan was launched, that figure is a damning indictment of this government’s commitment to rural areas.

“I can think of a number of businesses here in Sligo, which need broadband, and while it has made it to the end of their road, it has not made it to their doorstep.  One is a high-tech tool making factory, which employs almost 18 people, and which has a large customer base in China, but which exports right around the world.  There’s also an equestrian centre there, which is not only a good employer, but is also an important tourism attraction.  I believe these businesses should be targeted and that broadband should be prioritised in these areas.

“Unless Fine Gael wakes up to the impact that the lack of broadband is having on towns, villages and communities, jobs will be lost and areas will go into even deeper declines.  Rollout to these areas is needed urgently and I am calling on Minister Bruton to intervene immediately”.