Minister Denis Naughten this morning confirmed that he attended a dinner with David McCourt, chairman of the private investment firm Granahan McCourt who are the only remaining bidder for the National broadband plan.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio News at One, Eamon Ryan said: “The Minister cannot say he has removed himself from the bidding process while at the same time having dinner with the sole remaining bidder.
“The entire bidding process is in disarray. Minister Naughten has a real problem because key questions remain as to how we roll out the fibre optic cables to every rural home.
“Eir use two million telephone poles to service the homes included in the National Broadband plan. Each of those poles cost €20 a year to maintain. We could save the Irish Public some one billion euro over the lifetime of the plan by instead wrapping the fibre optic cables along the ESB wires that also go to every home.
“Minister Naughten should now allow an open debate within the Oireachtas as to what final technology choices are taken in this plan. It should include debate with the farming organisations and Irish Rural Link, so that the issue of landowners’ consent to cables crossing over their land can be discussed.
“The final choices should be made at a political level rather than being left for Mr McCourt to decide. It should however be made in a transparent manner rather than around a dinner table in Manhattan, as happened last month.”
“Minister Naughten needs to explain how we are supposed to get value for money when there is only one bidder. Rural Ireland needs this badly, but it needs to be done right, and we need to get value for money.”
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