TD: Varadkar’s eir poles comment ‘displays stark ignorance’

Comments from the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar regarding the use of eir poles in the roll-out of rural broadband “display stark ignorance”, according to an independent TD.

Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice was responding to the Taoiseach’s appearance on The Week in Politics on RTE One, where he dismissed the possibility of using eir poles to deliver fibre broadband, saying: “Fibre is underground…you don’t need poles.”

However, Fitzmaurice slammed these comments, saying that eir poles were the only viable means of delivering broadband to rural areas.

His claim that ‘fibre is underground, not on poles’ displays a stark ignorance of the realities of digital provision in rural Ireland. If he actually visited rural Ireland, he would discover that the opposite of his statement is in fact the case.

“Fibre may be laid underground in Dublin and in other cities. But in rural Ireland, should Taoiseach Varadkar ever find it, the eir poles are the only way that the Taoiseach can achieve his often-stated ambition of securing full broadband provision across our digital divide,” argued Fitzmaurice.

He added: “The Taoiseach’s latest digital blackout reveals a frightening absence of the sort of practical knowledge and simple common sense required to get the job done. Saying you can’t use poles for the provision of fibre broadband is like saying you don’t need tar to build a road.”

Fitzmaurice also argued that the Government has no clear direction in its plans to implement fibre broadband in rural areas.

In the past week, the Taoiseach issued a lot of sweet nothings about wanting to avoid a digital divide and personal crusades.

“However, he has already missed the bus on this matter. A digital divide currently exists and is accelerating. Quality broadband for half a million of our citizens continues to be a case of opportunity denied,” he claimed.

Fitzmaurice concluded by saying: “Many parts of rural Ireland are experiencing a digital blackout. And answers like the Taoiseach gave last weekend indicate that, were this Government in charge at the time of the rural electrification project in the 1950s, we would still be using candles.”