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NBP in chaos, Smyth review a smokescreen

12 October 2018

Statement by Sean Sherlock TD
Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs

Labour Dáil Communications spokesperson Seán Sherlock TD has said the National Broadband Plan is now in chaos, and that the Smyth review announced by the Taoiseach is a smokescreen for the decisions and mistakes made over the last two years that have imperiled the plan.

Deputy Sherlock said:

"The National Broadband plan has been in trouble for some time now due to the failures of the former Minister.

"The move by Minister Naughten in April 2017 to sign a deal with Eir to fast-track 300,000 homes that were originally to be part of the plan fatally undermined the process.

"This was then followed by the withdrawal of Eir and Siro from the process, leaving just 1 bidder. The Enet consortium has also seen significant changes.

"The announcement by the Taoiseach to ask the 'independent process auditor' Peter Smyth for a report on whether the process is contaminated, is a delaying tactic until the controversy dies down. The review is in effect a smokescreen.

"We know the process has been contaminated by the responsible Minister through multiple meetings with Mr McCourt.

"However, with the State now controlling Enet through the Irish Strategic Infrastructure Fund that invests in the Irish Infrastructure Fund there may be an alternative pathway emerging to deliver the required broadband infrastructure.

"The one thing we do know is that 500,000 homes and businesses have little prospect of viable connectivity in the years to come. It will be 2023 before many see any connection, if at all, should the current process manage to falter on."