Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Ceisteanna (258)

Thomas Pringle


258. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if he will expand on the awarding of a grant of €35,000 to erect a mobile telephone mast at a location (details supplied) in County Donegal under the digital innovation programme; if the funds have been awarded to a private company; the benefits expected to result from the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4464/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Digital Innovation Programme was launched in 2018 with the aim of supporting digital development in Local Authority areas for the benefit of communities.

Applications are required to meet certain criteria that include the project being Local Authority-led and providing evidence that the project will take an innovative approach and provide a public benefit. Collaborative projects and projects that benefit multiple sections of the community are particularly welcome.

The project referred to by the Deputy is an initiative driven by local people and supported by Donegal County Council, who submitted a successful application for funding under the Digital Innovation Programme in 2018. Funding of €35,000 was awarded to Donegal County Council for the project.

A mobile phone operator has also committed to ensuring that the project is completed, reflecting the collaborative nature of the project. No funding has been allocated to that company by my Department.

The expected benefits of this project are wide ranging, from social inclusion to meeting the needs of local businesses. The area of Donegal in question has never had reliable mobile phone coverage, leaving local residents at a distinct disadvantage. The project will be reviewed to ensure that the learnings from the project are fully captured, including the extent to which this particular approach can be replicated in other parts of the country.