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Scrutiny Committee required for broadband – Fitzmaurice

An independent Committee of Scrutiny must be set up to hold this Government’s feet to the fire when it comes to broadband, Michael Fitzmaurice TD has warned.

Speaking on the matter, the independent TD said: “This Government’s tendency to confuse announcement with delivery means that Dail Eireann must set up a fully resourced, high-powered Committee of Scrutiny to ensure that this Government does not resile from its commitments at the first opportunity that it gets.

“As proof of its bona-fides, the Government should move to immediately set up such a body.

“This committee should be inquisitorial in nature and should scrutinize: the current deal as negotiated, we need to go through every line of that thousand-page document to avoid a Children’s Hospital II; the protection of the taxpayer and the securing of value for money; risk management; the capacity of all figures involved to deliver on their commitments; and the implementation of the deal.”

Continuing, Fitzmaurice added: “The minister and the department cannot be allowed disappear into the mist after this deal has been announced.

“The Dail has committees on everything from petitions to procedures. The National Broadband Plan is the largest infrastructural commitment to rural Ireland since electrification and roads.

“It requires ongoing scrutiny, of the deal itself and its administration. Therefore, a properly resourced committee is required.

“We have no reason to trust the bona-fides of the Government given its past performance. Having held the project up for seven years through a combination of temerity and indolence, it is more than capable of holding it up for another seven.

“This Committee of Scrutiny should consist of mostly rural TD’s and Senators and should be given a specifically inquisitorial remit.

“It should also sit through the summer to ensure the deal gets off the ground swiftly and isn’t strangled at birth by political cowards and civil service laggards.

“I will be raising this with the Taoiseach this week and, with the support of the Independent Alliance, I expect a positive response,” he said.

Golden Share

Meanwhile, the Roscommon-Galway TD also stated that the Government must retain a golden share in whatever company structure is set up to implement its proposed national plan.

“Broadband, like electricity or water, should be the people’s asset. This crucial national asset should not be allowed to become the plaything of vulture funds

“In order to protect the taxpayer, this Government must move to follow the Aer Lingus precedent and maintain a golden share; particularly since we, the taxpayers, are the majority investor.

“The last thing we need is an Eircom II; instead we need a right of veto on excessive profiteering or any sell-off,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

Michael Fitzmaurice TD – 0861914565