Fianna Fáil TD for Westmeath Robert Troy has said the Government’s attempt to plaster over the cracks in their broadband plan will not distract from the fact that less than 2% of rural Ireland will be connected in the first year of the National Broadband Plan (NBP).

Deputy Troy said the plans to roll-out 300 broadband connection points across the country as a stop-gap measure would not take away from the fact that it will be 2027 before homes in rural Ireland will get effective broadband.

He said, “12 connection hubs in libraries, community centres, schools and local GAA facilities across Westmeath is of little consolation to Westmeath SMEs who need high speed broadband to run their business. It’s of little consolation to the children who need to access the internet for their homework or the farmers who need to file their applications online.

“I understand these connections are important, but they should not be confused with what broadband for rural Ireland actually means. It means having access to high speed broadband in the home so that people can participate in the digital economy, so that they can access services and so that they can work from home – these connection points don’t achieve that objective.

“The Government are trying to buy time and pawn people off with ineffective sideshows. They want to distract from the fact that the roll-out of the NBP will be painfully slow.

“It’s already galling that the plan is costing over two billion euro more than anticipated and that the Irish taxpayer won’t even own it at the end of it.

“True to form the Government will spend the next 12 months trumpeting these connection points and re-announcing them but the fact of the matter is less than 2% of rural Ireland would be connected in the first year of the National Broadband Plan,” he concluded.