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Broadband availability must be widened - Mary Lou McDonald

22 February, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today called for the widening of broadband technology to "cater for the whole of Ireland". Ms McDonald also said that the siting of broadband masts must be "community sensitive given concerns regarding exposure to them".

Ms McDonald was responding to a report by Forfas, which estimates that Ireland requires an additional 700,000 broadband connections by 2007. The report also shows that businesses with broadband are at 20% in Connaught/Ulster.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms McDonald said:

"It is unacceptable that some areas of the country enjoy unlimited access to broadband services while others are forced to do with out. While there has been a steady rise in the rollout of broadband, many areas of the country remain disadvantaged.

"In particular, rural areas have suffered greatly. Local business and economic development has been disadvantaged because of the lack of investment in infrastructure. The rollout of Broadband into rural areas will be an important incentive in creating a level playing field both in terms of our local indigenous businesses and in attracting inward investors.

"Whilst Sinn Féin would welcome the rollout of this service, the siting of masts must be community sensitive. Given some of the very legitimate concerns regarding long term exposure to broadband and mobile phone masts, there is concern that some masts are in areas where local communities may be at risk. I have also recently called for current mast locations to be reviewed as a matter of urgency.

"It is also important to note that not all people have direct access to a computer or can afford to buy one, let alone pay for broadband facilities. Government has a responsibility to provide adequate resources for local communities, through the provision of information services, computer courses, IT training and support for those who want to access this medium." ENDS

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