‘Broadband and Brexit should be treated as separate issues’

It is very unfair and inappropriate for the Taoiseach to effectively link Brexit and Rural Broadband which are two completely separate issues, according to the president of a farm-lobby group.

President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack, made the observation in response to comments from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in relation to funding for a Rural Broadband Plan and the possibility of a Brexit bailout for farmers impacting on it.

McCormack said: “Brexit-related losses will impact on the current budget in 2019 while the Rural Broadband Plan is a capital project and is highly unlikely to have a major impact on the 2018 budget outcome.

Indeed, it is disappointing that the Taoiseach decided to effectively play one rural issue against another which is unfair and should not be a factor in relation to rural broadband.

Continuing, McCormack said: “The reality is that Brexit is and will directly impact on farmers and it is completely appropriate that supports are made available from both the EU and our Government to support the sector during potentially a very disruptive period.

“The Rural Broadband Project is a hugely important infrastructure project which should be treated the very same way as the many Government funded capital projects in Dublin.”

Concluding, McCormack said: “Pitting one rural issue against another is not the way to proceed and both issues need to be addressed fairly and on their merit.”