National Broadband Plan: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Timmy Dooley on Tuesday, 6 February 2018:
That Dáil Éireann recognises that:
— 542,000 homes, schools and businesses, representing 40 per cent of our population and 96 per cent of our geographic cover, have no access to broadband, with no possibility of connection on the horizon;
— the ability of rural enterprises and farms to remain competitive and to carry out their administrative and commercial functions is being seriously harmed by the unavailability of broadband to them;
— the National Competitiveness Council of Ireland has stated that regional job growth is being stymied by the lack of connectivity in rural areas;
— children and young people in rural Ireland are being denied the same educational opportunities as their urban peers, owing to the lack of broadband in their homes and schools; and
— there is now effectively a two-tier internet landscape in Ireland, where rural areas rank among the worst-served areas in all of Europe;
notes that:
— in 2011, the previous Fine Gael-led Government first committed to the roll-out of high-speed broadband to every home and premises in Ireland by 2016;
— the ongoing tendering process for the National Broadband Plan (NBP) first commenced in 2015;
— the decision by SIRO to withdraw from the NBP in September 2017, owing to the overly onerous and complex bidding structure, highlighted wider deficits within the implementation of the NBP; and
— the recent decision by eir to withdraw from the NBP bidding process, leaving only one bidder remaining, has seriously compromised the tendering process and raises doubts over whether the NBP, as currently designed, can ever be implemented; and
calls on the Government to:
— guarantee that high-speed broadband is delivered to every Irish home and business in a prompt manner, even if this requires greater or full State intervention; and
— conduct a full independent expert review of the tendering process, to be concluded within two months, that will provide a full examination of the following aspects of the NBP:
— the design and implementation of the tendering process, and the degree to which the tendering process is inhibiting participation by suitable bidders;
— whether the existent NBP is future-proofed to meet Ireland’s future societal and economic needs;
— the impacts of key decisions made during the tendering process on the overall viability and delivery of the NBP, including, the decision by the Government to sign a commitment agreement with eir to serve 300,000 homes that had previously been within the State intervention area, the decision by SIRO to withdraw from the bidding process, and the subsequent decision by eir to also withdraw; and
— the case for State ownership of the infrastructure.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 2:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“recognises:
— the importance of the Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP), which will bring high-speed broadband to every home and business in Ireland;
— the NBP will economically transform rural Ireland in the same way that rural electrification did in the last century;
— that the NBP is designed to ensure that the high-speed broadband network is future-proofed for advances in technology and increases in demand over the next 25 years;
and
— that the NBP is underpinned by:
— the Programme for a Partnership Government;
— the European Commission’s Europe 2020 Strategy - Digital Agenda for Europe;
— the National Digital Strategy;
— the Action Plan for Jobs;
— the Action Plan for Rural Development; and
— the Digital Strategy for Schools;
notes:
— the appointment, through a public procurement process, of a team of circa 80 national and international experts in procurement, finance, funding, network design, project management, technical specialists and commercial and financial analysts, as well as legal specialists and support staff to support the development of the NBP contract;
— the governance arrangements in place for the procurement process, including a separate Steering Group and Procurement Board which also include national and international experts;
— that ComReg, the statutory body responsible for the regulation of the electronic communication sector, sits as an observer on the Steering Group;
— that the final proposed subsidy is reviewed from a value for money perspective by the National Development Finance Agency against the project budget;
— that the NBP programme is subject to the Public Spending Code;
— that Government agreement will be required before a contract can be awarded and a final subsidy agreed; and
— that expenditure incurred under the NBP is subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General;
considers:
— that stalling the NBP procurement process to undertake a review would delay the award of the NBP contract and of the deployment of broadband infrastructure by a minimum of six months, to allow time for procurement of experts and to carry out a meaningful review;
— the strong governance framework in place for the NBP procurement process;
— that the NBP procurement process is about to enter the final stages and the remaining bidding consortium in the procurement process has reaffirmed its commitment to the successful conclusion of that process; and
— the significant uncertainty that would be created by embarking on an unnecessary review at this late stage of the procurement process could undermine and collapse that procurement process; and
calls on the Government to continue apace with the public procurement process to select a company to build a future-proofed high-speed broadband network in those areas which will not be served by commercial operators, to ensure that every place name, in every county in Ireland is put on the digital map.”
- (Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to amendment No. 2 on the motion re national broadband plan. On Tuesday, 6 February 2018, on the question that the amendment to the motion be agreed to, a division was claimed and in accordance with Standing Order 70(2), that division must be taken now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 47; Níl, 77; Staon, 0.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.

Níl

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Michael Moynihan and John Lahart.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after "the subsequent decision by eir to also withdraw; and" and substitute the following:

" - the possibility of now progressing the NBP through State ownership, recognising that the effects of the decision to privatise the State company Telecom Éireann in the past has had a negative impact on citizens and telecommunications services, and that State ownership would have facilitated a less complex and possibly less expensive roll out of broadband; and

- the feasibility of using existing State infrastructure held by the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) for the future roll out of broadband; and

- place an obligation on existing and future broadband service providers to provide a guaranteed minimum connection speed."

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 76; Níl, 48; Staon, 0.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Denise Mitchell; Níl, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared carried.
Question put: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 77; Níl, 48; Staon, 0.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Michael Moynihan and John Lahart; Níl, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin.
Question declared carried.