Carthy challenges Tánaiste on Broadband Plan failures
Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has challenged government on the failures within the rollout of the National Broadband Plan which will cost Irish taxpayers up to €3Billion but which is drastically beyond schedule.
Almost half of Co. Monaghan homes and businesses are to be connected to the plan. But, last week it emerged that the investors behind the project drew down substantial monies from the public purse, before a single home was connected.
In the Dáil, Deputy Carthy challenged Fine Gael leader, Leo Varadkar.
He told the Tánaiste:
“In November 2019, your Government signed the contract for the national broadband plan, despite several warnings that it was a bad deal for the taxpayer.
“Indeed, the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform warned that the consortium could recoup all of its money by 2028 and then sell up shop. Nevertheless, the taxpayer agreed to fork out €2.7 billion for a network that we will never own.
“The broadband plan is now way behind schedule. Its target for homes connected by next January has been cut in half.
“Today, we have learned that David McCourt and other investors were paid out €50 million in 2020 before a single home was even connected, with the taxpayer paying them €43 million.
“Will the Tánaiste tell us how the investors were able to suck out money before a single home was connected? I ask him to confirm that the Government will publish the criteria linking State payments to the milestones reached.”
Speaking afterwards, Deputy Carthy said that he will continue to pursue this matter. “It is not acceptable” he said “that Fine Gael agreed to expend €3Billion of the Irish people’s money on a network we will never own, while thousands of homes in counties like Monaghan continue to have no sense as to when they will actually be connected to high-speed broadband as promised”.