Belfast Telegraph

Government ‘to consider all advice’ before National Broadband Plan decision

The multi-million euro project is expected to be given the green light in the coming weeks.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he will listen all the available advice (PA)
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he will listen all the available advice (PA)

The Government will consider all of the advice it has received before making a final decision about the National Broadband Plan, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said.

It comes as speculation mounts that the Government is set to approve the multi-million euro plan in the next fortnight.

Mr Donohoe said the Government had not yet decided whether to proceed with the project.

“It has gone through a very, very extensive debate and process within the government and with the Department of Communication,” he said.

“No recommendation has been taken to government yet in relation to it, but that will be happening, I believe, soon and I’ll be taking account of all the advice and views on that matter when I give my views on it.”

Only one bidder remains in the process for the contract to deliver high-speed broadband to more than 540,000 homes across the country.

Asked whether he had been advised not to go ahead with the plan, Mr Donohoe replied: “I have got a lot of different views in relation to this project but I think the imperative thing is that we allow the work that is under way in relation to the broadband plan to come to conclusion.”

“That will he happening and then the Cabinet will be briefed on all of the different issues in relation to it and all of the different opportunities in relation to it.”

Mr Donohoe made the remarks on Friday at the official opening of the Summerhill primary care centre in Dublin’s north inner city.

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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe speaking, with Health Minister Simon Harris (right) at the opening of the Summerhill primary care centre in Dublin (Michelle Devane/PA).

He added that the plan had gone through a “very extensive” tendering process.

“We’re now aware of the many different costs and complexities that are involved in relation to delivering a project of this scale and because of this, Cabinet will be well informed and well placed to make a good decision on what is a really important investment in our country’s future,” he said.

Earlier this month Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan would cost in the region of three billion euro.

It is almost four years since the tender process began.

The cost of the project was originally estimated at between 355 million and 512 million euro, but Mr Varadkar has said the cost may end up being “many multiples” of what was budgeted.

PA

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