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.
It is a cause of immense embarrassment to many people in the IDA and elsewhere when they must explain to multinational organisations that they will give them the 12.5% corporation tax but cannot give them any communication facilities with their home bases around the world.
Broadband is an essential weapon in anybody’s armoury when it comes to marketing Ireland. We should have it in every household. The smugness with which we accept the investment of American multinationals is being wiped off our faces by the loss of 350 jobs in Motorola, the possible loss of jobs in Vodafone, and the loss of BUPA. We are in danger of losing other multinationals.
The construction industry, which is the second pillar of the national development plan, is booming but it is feeding off these multinationals that are paying so much money to those people who can afford the houses that are being built. We must provide that infrastructure otherwise the economy will be in for a difficult time in the years ahead.