Tuesday, 14 May 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Leo Varadkar (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Dublin West, Fine Gael)
The only physical asset that MBI will own is the fibre and fibre has to be renewed after 20 or 30 years. The advantage of the gap funding model is such that because MBI owns the fibre it is much more likely it will continue to invest in it and renew it. That is one of the reasons the gap funding model was chosen over the State ownership model.
In our deliberations over the past few months, following the appointment of Deputy Bruton, as Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, one of the things we gave consideration to was exactly what Deputy Boyd Barrett proposed, which is the renationalisation of Eircom so that we could get our hands on the real infrastructure, which is the poles and the ducts. Two thirds of that company sold for €3.5 billion not too long ago. To renationalise it, which would take quite some time and, possibly, a legal battle, we would have to compensate the shareholders, probably to the tune of €5 billion or €6 billion. That would be the outlay before we provided any money at all to connect any home in rural Ireland, which would amount to a cost of €8 billion or €9 billion.