Wednesday, 15 June 2005
Noel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources; Meath, Fianna Fail)
It is being addressed as a matter of urgency. However, one can only go so far on issues like these. I have no powers to direct companies on how much they charge. We have been trying to involve the two regulators and they have been exerting as much pressure as they can. They have been encouraging the companies to introduce an all-island tariff. They have also provided better information for consumers on tariff options and on how to avoid inadvertent roaming. Both regulators are co-operating and they are trying to create joint arrangements North and South.
We should not concentrate on this in just a North and South context. I have expressed the view to the companies concerned that we should move very quickly to an all-island market in telecommunications companies, similar to the energy market. The UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should be treated as one market. I am not as pessimistic as the Deputy, but neither do I expect something to happen next week. However, the reality is beginning to dawn on these companies that consumers are becoming more aware of these issues. When there is increased competition in the market, people will vote with their feet.
ComReg has made a decision on the market dominance of these companies, which is being appealed. I cannot say anything about it for that reason.