Following the resignation of embattled Minister for Communications Denis Naughten, Donegal TD Pearse Doherty has described this latest fiasco to beset the Governmentâ€™s National Broad Plan as yet another major blow to homes and businesses across Donegal.
Deputy Doherty said:Â â€śThe resignation of Minister for Communications Denis Naughten this evening is just the latest fiasco to beset the long running disaster that has been this Governmentâ€™s handling of the National Broadband Plan.
â€śItâ€™s deeply alarming that a Minister would think it acceptable to leave himself open to accusations that sensitive commercial information regarding an acquisition process may have been communicated to somebody representing a party to that acquisition.
"As Sinn FĂ©in has said repeatedly, the Government has made repeated mistakes as part of the procurement process and, with only a single bidder left in the mix, the state is now at the mercy of that sole bidder.
â€śWe are talking about a state awarded and subsidized contract to provide broadband to some 542,000 households for 25 years, yet this government has choosen to hand full ownership over to a private company without a plan B.
â€śThe revelations which have emerged over the last few hours that a number of meetings took place between now former Minister Naughten and the business man involved in the tender means that it is no longer a question of if the bidding process has been compromised, but rather by what degree has it been.
â€śThe Taoiseach told the DĂˇil this evening that he is now seeking an independent report into the National Broadband Plan following this latest development and while itâ€™s of course important that we have full transparency, this situation will no doubt delay the plan even further - six years after the plan was first announced.
"High-Speed Broadband is badly needed for the development of swathes of rural Ireland, not least Donegal where hundreds of homes and business remain without access to adequate broadband services.
â€śRecent studies carried out by Switcher.ie found that Donegal had some of the slowest download speeds in the state at just 13.44Mbps â€“ well below the 30Mbps minimum National Boradband Plan target.
"Similarly, a recent speed report from broadband speed rating service Ookla, found that Donegal, Leitrim and Mayo are the three counties with the slowest fixed-line data speeds in the state.
"The governmentâ€™s handling of this process, combined with this latest fiasco to beset the National Broadband Plan, now means that the Governmentâ€™s plan is in complete tatters while we are now as far back as ever in this journey to deliver much needed broadband to rural Ireland.â€ť
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