Government puts rural broadband on the long finger again.

ICSA says farmers will face ‘serious difficulties’ when BPS applications have to be made online.

Sligo News File.

Did anybody seriously believe the outgoing Fine Gael- Labour Coalition had any intention of pushing ahead with the roll out the much publicised rural broadband service?

Seamus Sherlock, Chair, ICSA National Rural Development Committee
Seamus Sherlock,
Chair, ICSA National Rural Development Committee

Well, it now looks that it will be many more years before the long promised rural service sees the light of day, a situation which, once again, reveals the half-hearted attitude Fine Gael and Labour have regarding the revamping of anything rural.

The failings have again drawn the ire of the ICSA whose rural development chairman, Seamus Sherlock has said the delay in signing a new contract to 2017 “will have the knock on effect of further isolating and marginalising rural communities.”

Coming just a year after Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney spoke of  a prosperous era for a milk industry that is now struggling to survive, Sherlock has branded the latest government announcement as “further evidence that rural Ireland is not getting the priority it deserves.

Broadband“It’s totally unacceptable that we are so far behind the curve on this issue,” he said, adding that the broadband rollout “may now not be completed until 2022.”

He said, “People living in rural communities urgently need proper broadband with local banks and post offices closing. Also, the time is fast approaching when all farmers will be required to complete their BPS applications online, which when you don’t have access to broadband will cause serious difficulties.

“I am calling on the department to sort out their so-called planning and procedural issues on this matter.” The people of rural Ireland “are not prepared to wait.”