Denis Naughten fails to raise broadband plan review at Cabinet

Communications Minister Denis Naughten has risked provoking fresh rural anger days before the national framework plan launch after failing to discuss at Cabinet a Dáil decision to seek a review of the broadband plan.

Denis Naughten

Two senior Government press spokespeople confirmed that Mr Naughten did not raise the outcome of last week’s Dáil vote supporting Fianna Fáil calls for the roll-out to be re-examined after a second company pulled out of the project.

On Thursday, the Dáil voted in favour of a Fianna Fáil motion by party communications spokesman Timmy Dooley to seek an immediate two month independent review of the Government’s faltering broadband roll-out scheme.

However, despite parliament making its view on the matter clear, Mr Naughten said he will not act on the vote result and that he has the Government’s overall backing to continue with the existing plan.

In a number of radio interviews in recent days, Mr Naughten claimed he is not ignoring the Dáil vote and is instead taking it on board as he continues to press ahead with the roll-out.

However, despite saying last week he would raise the vote result at this week’s Cabinet meeting to ensure a full ministerial discussion takes place, senior Government figures confirmed no such discussion occurred.

The decision by Mr Naughten not to raise the broadband vote and its implications is likely to lead to fresh criticism the Government is failing to take on board the views of rural Ireland ahead of the launch of the national framework plan in Sligo on Friday which ministers want to use to renew support in rural bases.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s cabinet meeting also saw Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirm he will not oppose a bill by Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty to increase Central Bank powers to tackle senior bankers who provide false information to authorities.

As revealed in yesterday’s Irish Examiner, the meeting also heard Health Minister Simon Harris say Ireland and four EU nations will negotiate with drug firms as one group in order to cut prices.

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