As the Deputy will be aware, the Government recently announced its intention to award the contract for the roll out of high-speed broadband in the State Intervention Area to a preferred bidder following a detailed tendering process. The question of securing funding for the National Broadband Plan (NBP) is a matter for the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
I do not anticipate that investment in the NBP will result in a reduction in funding for other rural programmes. In fact, the roll out of high speed broadband will complement the commitment in the National Development Plan to invest €1 billion over the next ten years through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.
Funding for rural programmes in my Department’s Vote this year amounts to €138.371 million. This compares to a provision of €93.384 million for rural programmes in 2018.
The 48% increase year-on-year in my Department’s Vote shows the Government's clear commitment to supporting rural communities. This commitment is further enhanced by the recent announcement regarding the NBP.