McDonald challenges Martin to ‘put up or shut up’ over broadband

Mary Lou McDonald has challenged the Fianna Fail leader to “put up or shut up” on the issue of rural broadband.

The Sinn Féin leader called on Micheál Martin to back her party’s motion opposing the Government’s €3 bn (£2.6b) National Broadband Plan.

The party plans to table the motion in the Dáil this week, seeking the appointment of the ESB to deliver rural broadband.

The Government last week approved Granahan McCourt as the preferred bidder for the roll-out of high speed broadband to more than 540,000 homes and businesses across the country over the next seven years.

Ms McDonald said the Fine-Gael led Government, which is supported by Fianna Fáil, had shrugged off alternatives to the plan which would allow broadband to remain in public ownership.

“The national broadband shambles is aided and abetted by Micheál Martin,” she said.

“And just like the National Children’s Hospital he plays spectator politics with taxpayers money.”

But the Dublin Central TD said Sinn Féin was “prepared to take action”.

If he is serious about protecting rural Ireland, if he's serious about protecting delivering rural broadband then he will support the Sinn Féin motion

“We will table a motion in the Dail to appoint the ESB, a commercial semi-state, to deal finally with rural broadband,” she said.

“My challenge to Micheál Martin is this: put up or shut up.

“If he is serious about protecting rural Ireland, if he’s serious about protecting delivering rural broadband then he will support the Sinn Féin motion.”

She made the comments alongside the party’s MEPs at the Dublin launch of the party’s European election manifesto.

Sinn Féin also launched its campaign in Belfast on Monday.

Ms McDonald accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of being “insulated from the reality of Ireland”.

“He’s out of touch,” she claimed. “His vision is of Ireland that works for the few, that delivers for landlords and protects the interests of the rich.”

- Press Association

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