Remote working plan will be ‘impossible’ for rural Ireland – TD

A Sinn Fein TD says the government’s National Remote Work Strategy will be impossible for many in rural Ireland.

In recent days, the government published the proposed plan which would allow employees to request to work from home permanently after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sligo-Leitrim deputy Martin Kenny said: “While it is welcome that legislation will be introduced to give employees a legal right to work from home, I believe this will still be an impossibility for many in rural areas.”

Deputy Martin Kenny

Lack of rural broadband

The deputy said that during this lockdown and the previous lockdowns, he has been contacted by constituents in Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Roscommon who have little or no broadband service.

For businesses and employees, access to fast and reliable broadband is essential and is as important as having electricity.

“I have [written] to the Minister for Communications [Eamon Ryan] to express my concern about the lack of broadband in these areas and that employees and businesses living in rural areas will be discriminated against because of where they live.

“It will mean that it will be impossible for them to work from home,” he added.

Regional focus

“It is important to point out, that while the concept has great merit, remote working is basically moving existing jobs around and must not become the entire focus or replace the responsibility of government to invest in and create new employment opportunities in the regions and rural areas,” deputy Kenny added.

This new legal right to [ask to] work from home will be easy to implement in Dublin and large urban areas that have the infrastructure in place for it. What about those living in the north west and other rural areas that have been starved of investment by successive governments?

“We need investment in infrastructure for the north-west and especially in our broadband services and we need it now,” he concluded.