Validity of National Broadband Plan now under threat says Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fail says the viability of the National Broadband Plan is now under threat.

It is after reports last night that SSE has pulled out of the tendering process for the project.

SSE is reportedly withdrawing from the consortium with eNet who were the last remaining bidders for the tender after Eir withdrew from the process.

The party's TD Timmy Dooley says it is likely no contract will be signed this side of 2020 after the ESB, Vodafone and Eir already withdrew from the plan.

Deputy Dooley said it is rural communities who will be hit hard by this: "Obviously that has a very significant consequence for the 540,000 home and business owners throughout Ireland who have been waiting for this project, which was promised by the Government since 2012."

He also claimed that the process has to date been so convoluted and bureaucratic, that every major commercial player has not felt comfortable continuing.

“The viability of the National Broadband Plan is now under threat to such an extent that it is conceivable that no contract will be signed this side of 2020," he said.

"With ESB, Vodafone, Eir and now SSE all out, what hope is there for the 520,000 households in isolated and rural communities that they will see their homes and businesses connected in the next six to eight years?," asked Mr Dooley.

“One has to question why e-Net has not to date been announced as the preferred bidder by the Department? They have been the sole remaining bidder since the spring?

“Minister Naughten must confirm when he became aware of SSE's decision, and what his plans are into the future?" he said.

Labour spokesperson on Communications Seán Sherlock TD also slammed the Government's response to the National Broadband Plan.

Deputy Sherlock said: "We've known since February that there is only one bidder left in this project. Public trust is shot to pieces and the broadband plan is in shambles, and citizens will bear the brunt of this latest failure.

"The Minister now has serious questions to answer. We’ve had a litany of withdrawals from the process on his watch.

"The next moves from Government on this will be critical," he said.

Digital Desk

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