Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Timmy Dooley has said that once again the National Broadband Plan will suffer delays because of the clumsy approach to it by the Minister.

“Minister Naughten has now been in office for 11 months. Despite his many protestations since then, he has failed to speed up the roll out and delivery of high speed broadband to rural Ireland.

“What’s now playing out in front of us is developing into a full scale farce, with communities going in, only to be taken out less than a year later.

“Last July, the National Broadband Plan had its number of eligible households increased by 170,000. We now see the Minister removing 300,000 and adding a further 85,000 leaving a net reduction in 215,000.

“The story of the National Broadband Plan under Fine Gael and quasi Fine Gael Ministers has been announcement after announcement, with no clear visibility on when roll out will begin.

“Communities up and down the country simply don’t believe what the Government is saying about its broadband plans because every commitment to date has been broken.

“The decision to allow Eir to provide 300,000 households with broadband on a commercial basis has been on the cards since 2015. If this is a positive development, why has the Minister taken so long to agree to it, and announce it?

“We must be careful that this change does not slow down the rollout of broadband to those remaining under the NBP.

“As a result of this significant amendment to the plan, will other companies have to retender to take into account the reduced number of households? Undoubtedly, this may lead to a slowing down of the procurement process, and ultimately further delays with rollout.

“The Minister’s honeymoon period has long since passed. Communities and businesses are furious that they are still left waiting for high quality broadband six years after the NBP was first announced,” concluded Dooley.