Thursday, 14 April 2005
Michael Kitt (Fianna Fail)
I thank the Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Gallagher, for coming to the House for this debate.
I was very disappointed to learn that Tuam was not included for high-grade broadband and the town was certainly on the list as far back as March 2002, three years ago, when Senator O'Rourke was Minister for Public Enterprise. Tuam, after all, is a hub town under the national spatial strategy. It is one of three towns in County Galway with a town council, along with Ballinasloe and Loughrea. I would have expected it to be top of the list for broadband because of its hub status under the national spatial strategy.
As a developing town, I was amazed that smaller towns in Galway and in other counties were ahead of Tuam as regards high-grade broadband. I understand there was a pilot scheme involving the ESB, but this did not work out and we are now back to basics again. Hopefully, the Minister of State can confirm that Tuam will be included from today, or at least shortly, for high-grade broadband. This is vitally important for a town such as this which has suffered so much from job losses over the years. Town which are smaller than Tuam have obtained this facility and are making great progress as a result. Tuam is making progress in terms of small industry, but if the goal is to locate major industry in the town, the high grade broadband which other towns have, is necessary.
If the national spatial strategy means anything, it should follow that Tuam will get high-grade broadband. Three years after it was announced that it would be one of the first to get broadband, it is disappointing that so far Tuam has not been included. I hope the Minister of State can reassure me that this will happen in the very near future.