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Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe Municipal District, Councillor Pat Hayes. Photograph by John Kelly

Hayes secures briefing on roll-out of rural broadband

DETAILS of how and when the National Broadband Plan will be rolled out in rural Clare are to be made available, after representations on the issue by Councillor Pat Hayes.

It follows a case, highlighted by the Fianna Fáil member where a Tulla resident tried a total of ten providers, but still could not secure a satisfactory service to enable her to work from home.

The Caher native tabled a motion at the November meeting of the County Council calling on National Broadband Ireland (NBI) to outline its plans and to explain “how areas will be prioritised, [the] timescale of the project and how they plan to interact with other providers”.

Councillor Hayes, who is Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe Municipal District, told the meeting that everyone had come to learn the importance of good broadband connectivity during the pandemic. Joining the meeting remotely, along with four other members, Councillor Hayes noted that good coverage was now essential to the business of conducting local authority meetings. “Everyone nowadays is trying to work, study and do business from home,” he remarked. “We really need to know where we are with regard to broadband. In my own house, there are three laptops running every day and that’s part of a county-wide and national phenomenon.”

The East Clare man reiterated his annoyance that one of the main providers, Eir, were so difficult to contact . “They haven’t even replied to the council and the CEO, which his disgraceful,” he said. “The sooner we get a viable alternative, the better. There is a real urgency about this and we need to know the time-frame. The [digi-]hubs are great and working well, but we need broadband at home. People are tearing their hair out and we’re all getting several contacts every week, asking what the future for the broadband scheme is. It is critically important and I hope that the [Rural Affairs] Director might organising a briefing with NBI so councillors can advise communities.”

The motion was seconded by Councillor Alan O’Callaghan. “I have been investigating the process,” he said, “some aspects of the set-up sound kind of ludicrous. I understand there is a five-month delay with the installation of some of the poles. There are huge questions to be answered.”

A written reply to Councillor Hayes’s motion came from Director of Rural Development Leonard Cleary. “Contact has been made with National Broadband Ireland (NBI) and they have agreed to present to Clare County Council on the details and timescales on their plans of the rollout of Broadband in County Clare,” it said. “They have indicated that they can present to the monthly council meeting in person, online or if deemed necessary attend a special meeting on same. A follow up contact will now be made with a view to scheduling same.”

About Fiona McGarry

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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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