Fine Gael TD for Galway West & Mayo South

Address to the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce Forum 

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur romhaibh chuig an bhFóram Tascfhórsa do Gheallsealbhóirí Fón Póca agus Leathanbhanda agus go raibh maith agaibh as ucht freastal ar an ócáid inniu. 

Oibríonn an Tascfhórsa Fón Póca agus Leathanbhanda go maith leis an bPlean Náisiunta Leathanbhanda trí dlús a chur le feidhmiú tráchtála leathanbhanda ard luais agus chun an tseirbhís ríthábhachtach seo a chuir ar fáil do dhaoine agus do ghnólachtaí faoin tuaithe in Éirinn. 

Tá an chumarsáid i gcroílár an Fhóraim Tascfhórsa Fón Póca agus Leathanbhanda. Tá sé ríthábhachtach go féidir a bheith in ann cumarsáid a dhéanamh go héasca agus go héifeachtach le go leor réimsí éagsúla – don teaghlach agus don phobal, don oideachas agus don obair, don rialtas agus don tsochaí i gcoitinne.

Agus tar éis athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar an tuarascáil ar dhul chun cinn an Tascfhórsa Fón Póca agus Leathanbhanda, is léir gurb cumarsáid níos fearr an snáithe coitianta atá ag na gníomhartha ina bhfuil dul chun cinn déanta orthu. 

While I am Minister of State across both relevant departments – the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Department of Rural and Community Development it is as Minister of State at the newly-established Department of Rural and Community Development that I co-chair the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce Forum. 

Within my department the Regional Telecommunications Development Unit is tasked with leading the implementation of a significant number of actions from the Taskforce’s Report. This unit was established a little over a year ago and is working with stakeholders including colleagues at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the local authorities, other State agencies and the telecoms companies to find solutions. 

And significant progress has been made on almost all of the actions contained in the Report. 

This annual forum, for example, which I think is invaluable as it provides all stakeholders with the opportunity to discuss the issues and contribute the ideas related to the rollout of telecommunications infrastructure. 

Other actions on which significant progress is being made include – 

  • The campaign to make sure consumers are better informed of the progress to improve services as well as on the availability of the difference services available to them;
  • The work on reviewing the planning laws regarding the upgrading and updating of the telecoms infrastructure on which every one of us relies
  • The work to identify and utilise the publicly-owned property, including roads, for telecoms infrastructure
  • The creation of a map showing the different levels of mobile and broadband coverage across the country to identify blackspot areas, ascertain why they are blackspots and identify solutions to improve coverage. 

For me one of the highlights has been the establishment of Broadband Officers at every local authority. You’re probably aware of the line from former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger who when complaining about the European Community remarked ‘who do I call if I want to call Europe’. Well, broadband and telecoms was a bit like at the local government level until recently. 

A key recommendation of the Taskforce’s report was the appointment of a Broadband Officer in every city and county council in the country. The Broadband Officer – and I’m pleased to see many here today – is the dedicated point of contact in each local authority responsible for promoting telecommunications infrastructure development. He or she manages all of the internal and external interactions concerning telecommunications infrastructure in the county. 

My department – the Department of Rural and Community Development funds this crucial innovation with over €1 million invested and while Budget 2018 allocations are still being finalised the continued funding for Broadband Officers is a priority for me. 

As I said earlier communication is fundamental. It’s only by communication that we know where the problems are, what the solutions look like and what is takes to implement those solutions. However, as with all technology telecommunications is evolving and developing at a marvellous rate which is why communication from and between you the stakeholders is so important for us so that we can all build on the progress achieved to date. 

Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le gach sealbhóir gníomhaíochta agus páirtithe leasmhara a bhfuil baint acu le seachadadh na ngníomhartha atá leagtha amach i dTuarascáil an Tascfhórsa agus sibh a spreagadh chun leanúint ar aghaidh leis an obair. Tá dul chun cinn mór déanta go dtí seo agus ní mór dúinn a chinntiú go gcoinnímid suas an móiminteam sin.

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