Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers says homes, businesses and communities across Mayo are facing an even longer wait for broadband after it emerged that the former Communications Minister Denis Naughten met with the head of the consortium bidding for the National Broadband Plan contract David McCourt a number of times.

The fate of the project is now hanging in the balance as an audit of the tendering process is carried out.

Deputy Chambers commented, “Fine Gael’s handling of the National Broadband Plan has been completely chaotic since it was first announced in 2012.  We are more than 6 years into the programme and more than half of Co. Mayo is still waiting on a high speed connection.

“The tendering process has been nothing short of calamitous as bidder after bidder pulled out, leaving only one consortium left.  Indeed, even that consortium has seen its make up changed after John Laing and SSE dropped out of the bid.  Then last week former Minister Denis Naughten confirmed he had a number of private meetings with David McCourt casting doubt over the viability of the tender process.

“Once again rural Ireland is the big loser in this governmental mess up.  Fifty six percent of homes, businesses, farms and communities across Co. Mayo are dependent on the delivery of the National Broadband Plan.  These areas have already been waiting six years for access to the service, how much longer is it going to take now?

“I am calling on the new Communications Minister Richard Bruton to outline his plan for the programme.  The handling of the NBP has been a shambles and people living in Mayo and other rural areas deserve better.  This limbo cannot be allowed to continue – unless the Minister shows some leadership and takes control of the situation rural Ireland could be waiting another six years before any progress is made – and that is not acceptable”.