Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Regional Development Éamon Ó Cuív says a turf war between two Government departments over responsibility for the National Broadband Plan is unhelpful and could actually delay the roll out of broadband to rural Ireland.
Despite Denis Naughten being appointed Minister for Communications, the Taoiseach has allocated responsibility for the National Broadband Plan to Minister Heather Humphreys. However, Minister Naughten appears reluctant to give up his department’s ownership of the plan claiming that it will continue with “the procurement for a high speed telecoms network” as well as developing “proposals for an entity to manage all of the State’s Broadband contracts”.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “The roll out of a high speed broadband service should be one of the top priorities for this Government. However, the fact that responsibility for the project appears to be falling between two departments is an extremely worrying development. I am extremely concerned that this could result in major communications problems and a completely disjointed strategy. After more than 5 years of neglecting rural Ireland, this would be the worst possible outcome.
“Government departments do not have a great track record when it comes to joined up thinking and the fact that the National Broadband Plan now appears to be falling between Communications and Regional Development sounds alarm bells. What we need is a coherent and workable plan which falls entirely under the remit of one Minister, who can take full ownership of the project.
“The Taoiseach needs to urgently clarify the situation and ensure that the National Broadband Plan is pursued. We cannot run the risk of it falling through the cracks. High speed broadband is essential to the development of rural Ireland and it cannot be allowed to be pushed off the Government agenda”.