May 20, 2019
News

Kilkenny’s Big Phil backs rural broadband plan – despite €3bn price tag

IRELAND’S EU Commissioner, former Kilkenny TD Phil Hogan, has said rollout of high-speed broadband to rural areas must happen as soon as possible – despite the growing controversy over the estimated €3 billion cost of the project.

The Sunday Independent today reports that the country’s most senior civil servants warned Cabinet ministers the €3bn National Broadband Plan does not represent value for money for taxpayers.

According to the report, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform secretary general Robert Watt advised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to abandon the plans to bring high-speed broadband to almost every home and business in the country.

However, the Government – fearful of a public backlash ahead of next month’s local and European elections – is set to press ahead with the plan.

Meanwhile, Mr Hogan, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development has backed the project – despite mounting fears of another cost-overrun controversy.

He said: “I think the Irish Government definitely should make an investment in broadband provision in rural Ireland because we are lagging behind urban areas considerably.

“The Government I think is wise to consider investing because otherwise we will leave people as second class citizens in rural Ireland and it is clear the commercial sector has abandoned rural Ireland in terms of provision from their own resources.”

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