Following the resignation of embattled Minister for Communications Denis Naughten, Donegal TD Pearse Doherty has described this latest fiasco to beset the Government’s National Broad Plan as yet another major blow to homes and businesses across Donegal.

Deputy Doherty said: “The resignation of Minister for Communications Denis Naughten this evening is just the latest fiasco to beset the long running disaster that has been this Government’s handling of the National Broadband Plan.

“It’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.

“We 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.

“The 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.

“The Taoiseach told the Dáil this evening that he is now seeking an independent report into the National Broadband Plan following this latest development and while it’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.

“Recent studies carried out by Switcher.ie found that Donegal had some of the slowest download speeds in the state at just 13.44Mbps – 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 government’s handling of this process, combined with this latest fiasco to beset the National Broadband Plan, now means that the Government’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.”

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