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Guarded Welcome for Rural Broadband Announcement

Jul 2, 2014 | Press Releases | 0 comments

2nd July 2014

ICSA Rural Development Chairman Billy Gray has given a guarded welcome to today’s announcement that the ESB distribution system will be used in partnership with Vodafone to roll out a fibre broadband network across the country, but warned that ICSA wants to see broadband available to all rural dwellers.

“There have been too many false dawns for rural dwellers in terms of broadband provision over the years,” said Mr. Gray. “While we welcome today’s announcement as a positive move, there is still a long way to go before everyone living in rural Ireland has access to high-speed broadband. All rural areas, not just selected towns and villages, must be provided with this service before it can be truly effective in helping to bridge the urban-rural divide.”

“Farmers are expected to do more and more of their administrative work online now,” continued Mr. Gray. “Whether it’s Single Farm Payment applications, herd number registrations, the Department’s financial self-service system or even their own tax affairs, much of the farmer’s work now requires access to high-speed broadband. If the Government really expects farmers to engage with these online services, a full roll-out of broadband to all rural areas is vital.”

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ICSA president Sean McNamara has said the decision by the EU Council of Environment ministers to pass the Nature Restoration Law (NRL) today will cause serious unease amongst many Irish farmers. “As it stands, we have no clarity around how this law will be implemented in Ireland and what the consequences will be, especially for those on peaty soils. It is yet another example of an initiative being imposed on farmers that is heavy on targets and light on how those targets will be met or how they will be funded,” he said.

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