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Broadband Committee votes in favour of re-opening talks with ESB – Brian Stanley TD

20 August, 2019 - by Brian Stanley TD

Sinn Féin TD for Laois-Offaly Brian Stanley has today called on Fine Gael to re-engage with the ESB following the Joint Oireachtas Communications Committee’s review which concluded that the Governments National Broadband Plan had been based upon a flawed tendering process and had also chosen to ignore viable alternative options.

Speaking at Leinster House this afternoon after the Committee, Deputy Stanley said:

“We were told by Fine Gael throughout this entire process that their gap-funding model would achieve three objectives; it would reduce state risk, increase competition, and provide the taxpayer with value for money.

“All of the evidence provided to the committee and all of the analysis carried out by the members has led the committee to conclude that not one of those objectives was achieved.

“Motions passed today at the committee found that the state is actually carrying almost all of the risk of the project. The State is investing €3b, while the private operator is investing €220m.

“This was a failed process with regards to competition. Granaham McCourt is the only remaining bidder.

“The State will not even have ownership of the asset despite having invested the vast majority of the money; that does not constitute value for money.

“Today’s findings illustrate, once again, that Fine Gael is incompetent at handling public money. Fine Gael is incompetent at planning.

“We saw it with the Children’s Hospital. We saw it with the PSC. We’ve seen it with our schools. And today the Communications committee has found the same failures regarding the National Broadband Plan.

“I am pleased to say that the committee has today voted in favour of a recommendation that the Government re-engage with the ESB regarding the National Broadband Plan. This has been Sinn Féin’s position since 2011.

“The ESB has the infrastructure there. The ESB is a competent and trusted communications company. And the State has the authority to mandate the ESB to do the job.

“Most importantly of all, the network would stay in public ownership.

“We cannot allow a situation where the private sector invests a miserly amount, takes on a very little risk but ends up owning a hugely important and financially lucrative asset.

“Fine Gael has essentially chosen the worst of all worlds and if they chose to ignore the committee findings and push ahead with their flawed broadband plan it will go down, without a doubt, as an act of economic recklessness.”

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