Decision to go ahead with the National Broadband Plan is the right one: Minister

Arts Minister Josepha Madigan has confirmed she and the Cabinet disagreed with concerns raised by senior officials on the €3bn National Broadband Plan.

Confirming the scale of the concerns raised by officials at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, including its Secretary-General Robert Watt,

“It is important to stress that the department fulfils its role in giving its advice to ministers. It is not unprecedented that ministers would disagree with their department and ultimately government is about making decisions,” she told the Irish Examiner.

“I am very confident having listened to contributions that we have been fully transparent and that it is the right decision, notwithstanding the concerns,” she added.

Ministers were advised formally that the €3 billion National Broadband Plan, approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday, does not represent good value for money.

In advice circulated to all Ministers in advance of the meeting, the Department of Public Expenditure said the plan benefits are not justified by the cost. The proposal is to install a high-speed broadband connection to half a million homes and businesses not served by commercial operators.

Minster Paschal Donohoe ignored such concerns saying the future benefits outweigh those cost concerns.

“The decision I have made to on balance to go ahead with the project relates to the many issues I have touched upon about the future of our economy,” Donohoe told reporters.

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