Minister needs to clarify whether National Broadband already qualified for an additional €100 million in funding – Chambers
05 January 2020
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action & Environment Jack Chambers TD, has called on the Minister for Communications to clarify whether National Broadband Ireland already qualified for an additional €100 million in funding through reductions in the number of premises in the National Broadband Plan.
The European Commission’s published decision on the National Broadband Plan has provided clarity for the first time on the makeup of €480 million set aside for contingencies. €100 million has been set aside for commercial operators connecting to premises covered by the National Broadband Plan.
The document went on to state that 53,000 premises had been removed from the plan, contradicting responses to questions by Deputy Chambers that 38,000 premises had been removed.
Deputy Chambers said: “Since May, Fianna Fáil has been seeking clarity on the makeup of €480 million which has been set aside for unspecified but wide-ranging contingencies. It has finally emerged that a full €100 million has been set aside to pay National Broadband Ireland for premises it didn’t connect. It has also emerged that there is an inconsistency between the number of premises that the European Commission say have been removed from the Intervention Area and the numbers provided by the Minister for Communications.
“We need urgent clarification on this. All throughout the process, the government has claimed that the cost could be less than €3 billion because they hope not to access contingency funds. If it the case that contingency funds are already available, this seems highly unlikely.
“The Minister needs to urgently clarify whether National Broadband Ireland is already able to access funds set aside for commercial encroachment in light of the premises which have already been removed. He also needs to come clean about the full range of ways that the contingency fund can be accessed,” concluded Deputy Chambers.