It is remarkable that the Seanad is talking itself into a situation where it never debates anything relevant. Time is not allocated to topical items, and we seem to debate subjects that are at times utterly irrelevant. It is not that we do not have major issues to discuss which demand time – the Broadband Bill; legislation to regulate the scoundrels in the auctioneering industry; the issue of autism. This is what I told the House during the Order of Business:
Archive for the ‘Broadband’ Category
It’s incredible. Instead of a plan of action, the Minister has delivered yet another committee to ‘look at the matter’. When that committee reports, their recommendations won’t even be accepted. Instead, the Minister says their report will be ‘published for wider consultation’.
In advance of the publication of my Broadband Bill in the Seanad, I have learned that several telecoms operators intend to make major announcements in the coming days. It is thought that areas with speeds currently in the region of 2-3Mb broadband will soon have services offered in the region of 7-8Mb.
Given the abject failure of the government to provide universal, high-speed broadband to every household and business in the county, I have decided to introduce my own Bill that will do exactly this.
The main provisions of the Bill will include:
Stick your head in the sand; deep as you can bury it; ignore the spike in inflation; forget the property collapse; to hell with the budget deficit; disregard the rise in jobless. All is well. We still have the “knowledge economy”.
Welcome to the closing scene in the Celtic Tiger’s life: the nursing home. Send for the crutches.
Last week, I put down the following motion for debate in the Seanad: “That Seanad Éireann deplores the failure of the Government to ensure broadband access in every home and business in
During a heated 2 hour debate, addressed by 2 Ministers, I told the House that I am staggered by the lack of interest, alarm and urgency of Members when confronting the problem of broadband provision. It is an absolutely essential part of the infrastructure of a modern state, and it is disgraceful that we remain at the wrong end of every league table in terms of broadband penetration.
Last week, I was guest speaker at the Irish Internet Association’s (IIA) ‘net visionary’ awards in the Mansion House. It is a sell-out. These guys are at the coalface of Ireland’s economic boom. There are billions of euro sitting at the dinner tables.
I launch a broadside against Ireland’s broadband deficit. Why are we so behind the rest of Europe on broadband? Well, Leinster House is laden with Luddites. Its IT system is antedeluvian and no one in Government gives a toss. Half our TDs do not seem to know how to open a laptop.
On Thursday, the Seanad debated the IDA and its record of attracting investment into the country. Minister Michael Ahern and Senator Ivor Callely spoke for the government. Their speeches reflected an enormous confidence in the future. I do not know whether or not that is misplaced, but there is a danger about being too smug over the future of the IDA, just because it has been so successful in the past.
Unfortunately, the ostriches on the government benches seem to be blind to the dangers ahead. The formula for growth which worked in the past, based on low taxes and foreign investment, is being successfully emulated by numerous others today. In order to compete, the country’s infrastructural problems – problems like broadband – must be tackled. Here is an edited version of my speech in the Seanad chamber:
The details published today on the third broadband report of the Joint Committee on Communications are disturbing, but not surprising. It is unsurprising given widespread government inertia on the issue. It is disturbing because Ireland is winning a race to the bottom of the European broadband league, and this has implications both for our competitiveness and our quality of life.
Ministers have continually paid lip-service to the need to install broadband in every house and business in the country but have failed to implement practical policies to actually deliver nationwide. Their smugness and blindness will come back to bite us in the future.
Many Senators today called for a debate on the National Developmen Plan. However, as Senator Brendan Ryan pointed out, we will not have much of a national development plan if we do not have broadband. There is a motion on the Order Paper in the names of all the Independent Senators calling for a far more robust and committed attitude to broadband.
Senator Ryan and I may approach this matter from different angles, but I agree with virtually everything he said. Ireland is becoming a dangerous place for foreign investment. If the word goes out that we have abandoned our broadband programme, which is true, foreign investment will cease to come here with the same enthusiasm as before.