Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Broadband shambles threatens competitiveness - Morgan

6 May, 2007


Sinn Féin Enterprise spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has "The government's failure to invest in infrastructure and broadband roll out across the state has been a direct impediment to job creation in many counties and has ensured that manufacturing jobs lost in rural areas are not being replaced with new industry. Deputy Morgan was speaking at today's launch of Sinn Féin's Policy for the Economy, which, among other proposals, offers a package of measures aimed at developing Irish indigenous enterprise.

Arthur Morgan said:

"The government's failure to invest in infrastructure and broadband roll out across the state has been a direct impediment to job creation in many counties and has ensured that manufacturing jobs lost in rural areas are not being replaced with new industry.


"Infrastructure is a crucial pillar of competitiveness in the global economy and Sinn Féin believes that its provision is one of the core responsibilities of Government.


"The distance by which we lag behind other states in broadband provision - a direct result of Government action - is a disgrace. The privatisation of Eircom, has resulted in this state going from second in Europe for telecommunications availability to 23rd in less than a decade.


"Strategic sectors, essential to continued economic growth, cannot be left to chance and to the market. They can be efficiently and cost-effectively run by the public sector and should not be privatised.


"Sinn Féin believes that infrastructure development should be publicly funded and state-led. Eircom should be brought back into public ownership. Failing this, a new, publicly-owned telecommunications company should be established.


"In government Sinn Féin would set a target by which all telephone lines must be ADSL-enabled and initiate all-Ireland co-operation to integrate telecommunications systems, improving service and reducing costs.


"We would provide universal access to broadband on an all-Ireland basis and establish an all-Ireland mobile phone network, with reasonable all-Ireland tariffs.


"Development of indigenous Irish business is crucial for a sustainable economy. Under this Government, businesses, large and small, are feeling the pinch from the combined impact of poor infrastructure, traffic gridlock and spiralling energy, water and waste management prices.


"The next Government needs to be one that supports the development of indigenous small and medium enterprises (SME) and social economy enterprises. Currently smaller businesses get second class treatment.


"Sinn Féin proposes a package of measures aimed specifically at supporting and developing indigenous enterprise. We would continue to encourage more Foreign Direct Investment but give the same type of supports to small and medium businesses. We would also support agriculture, which provides 20% of all jobs outside of the public sector.


"Business needs affordable and reliable energy sources. The Government has failed to develop domestic energy production and all-Ireland networks, and has allowed Ireland to remain over-dependent on foreign and non-renewable energy supplies and thus captive to oil price rises.


"The domestic renewable energy sector is underdeveloped despite huge potential. Some areas of the country still do not have natural gas connectivity. The Government has presided over unreasonable ESB increases as part of a cynical exercise in fattening the company for private sale.


"Sinn Féin would halt the continued downsizing of the public sector in the 26 Counties and retain strategic sector companies in public ownership. In Government Sinn Féin would support public enterprise through the establishment of a state oil, gas and mineral exploration company. We would also establish a publicly-owned company to develop Irish renewable energy resources for the benefit of the nation."ENDS


Universal Broadband and an All-Ireland Phone Network

  • Invest to bring the Irish broadband network up to a satisfactory level and bridge the existing gap.
  • Bring Eircom back into public ownership or establish a new company in public ownership.
  • Set a target by which all telephone lines must be ADSL-enabled.
  • Introduce all-Ireland co-operation to integrate telecommunications systems on the island, thereby improving the service and reduce costs particularly for those in the border region.
  • Provide universal access to broadband on an all-Ireland basis.
  • Establish an all-Ireland mobile phone network, with reasonable all-Ireland tariffs

Enhancing All-Ireland Energy Networks, Controlling Prices, Developing Renewables

  • Develop an All-Ireland Energy Strategy to expand all-Ireland networks, accelerate development of the renewable energy sector with progressive targets towards energy independence, and bring domestic energy prices down.
  • Ensure that an all-Ireland energy market benefits all through the provision of affordable sustainable energy and security of supply.
  • Put an end to the artificial inflation of ESB prices, which results from the energy regulator's liberalisation remit and puts an undue burden on small businesses in particular.

Reclaiming our National Resources

  • Reform the current exploration licensing and taxation regime and renegotiate oil and gas contracts.
  • Establish a State oil, gas and mineral exploration company that would actively participate and invest in exploration which, alongside a proper revenue and royalties structure, would ensure that such finds benefit the Irish people by providing additional revenue for the Exchequer.

Maintaining Profitable Companies in Public Ownership

  • Keep the ESB and all other profitable public companies in public ownership.
  • Actively pursue returning Eircom and Aer Lingus to public ownership.
  • Explore and pursue the possibilities for the establishment of new public sector companies.
  • Negotiate at EU level for an exception to the EU State Aid Rules similar to that conceded to Germany, to assist post-partition reconstruction for reunification.

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