We must end these fiascos - Broadband offers another lesson

It is the nature of our world that politicians often face options one more unappealing than the other. 

These options are usually framed by legacy decisions, finite resources, a pressing need exacerbated by justified expectations. 

Evolving technologies and market forces play a part — as do parish pump backhanding and the insatiable need for election sweeteners. All of these factors come together in the €3bn broadband decision approved by the Cabinet this week. 

Only time will tell if this is the closing act in a drama that has dragged on for far too long and shown our body politic, and our expectations of it, in a very poor light. The project has moved into water charges fiasco territory and costs have assumed the runaway characteristics of the National Children’s Hospital.

The cost and ownership issues are sobering but is there an alternative? 

Fianna Fáil has focussed on cost even though there is a direct link between their decision to privatise communications 20 years ago and rural broadband failure. 

Were the shoe on the other foot Fine Gael would be as strident, hoping their audience had not joined the dots. There are many lessons in this, one being that utilities should never be privatised but the over-riding one is that we struggle to deliver mega projects. 

This is more about process than capacity so it is entirely within our reach to bring these cycles of humiliating inefficiency to an end. 

But, as with climate change, are we all, not just politicians, ready to make the necessary changes?

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