Fianna Fáil’s Communications Spokesperson, Timmy Dooley TD has said that the failure of Minister Naughten to begin the process of enacting the Critical Infrastructure Bill 2018 risks delaying the roll out the National Broadband Plan even further.

Deputy Dooley commented, “The Government led us all to believe that for it to sign a contract to roll out the plan, this bill needed to be on the Statute Book.

“If that was the case, how would the Government be in a position to sign such a contract in September 2018 which they previously indicated was their intention?

“This Bill sets out clear terms for broadband providers’ ability to access other companies’ infrastructure which is critical to making the National Broadband Plan feasible.

“The National Broadband Plan has been promised by the currrent government and by previous governments, and at this point we are no clearer as to whether it will ever come to pass. My understanding is that there is a standoff between the Department and the remaining bidder on the costs associated with rolling out a fibre broadband service to rural communities.

“Yet again it seems the tender process is failing to deliver notwithstanding the fact that there is only one bidder left in the process.

“If this plan is to work, the service will have to be offered at competitive prices to the 542,000 Irish home and business owners who desperately need a decent broadband connection.

“Minister Naughten failed to do what was necessary and needed and get the bill moving through both Houses of the Oireachtas.

“The Plan is already mired as a result of delay after delay and the failure of successive Governments and Ministers to do what was needed to get it over the line.

“Rural and isolated communities up and down the country are desperate for the National Broadband Plan to be rolled out. They are being economically and socially held back by not being able to access high speed, quality broadband.

“Time and time again, the Minister has, when push comes to shove, failed to do his job. This is yet another example of a laissez-faire approach to governing from Minister Naughten. Passing important critical pieces of legislation is the Minister’s primary responsibility,” concluded Dooley.