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12th May 2020
Source: Kilkenny Now
Difficulties experienced by some workers with their broadband speeds and access while working remotely in rural Kilkenny during the Covid-19 outbreak highlight the urgent need for greater broadband connectivity, a local TD has said.
Deputy John Paul Phelan also criticised Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, who last year said the National Broadband Plan was unfairly “advantaging” rural homes.
Deputy Phelan said: “Many people are now working from home who never would have done so previously. Initially it was challenging to come to terms with new workplace surroundings and with all the technological requirements needed at home. However, for the most part, as things have settled down during the outbreak, workers have been able to work from home more easily and some report they are finding it beneficial.
“As a result, there is now a new opportunity for businesses and for families alike to experience a better work/life balance when COVID-19 subsides and when work returns to normal. I believe this will be one of the very few positives Irish society will gain from this challenging time and the ‘new normal’ period ahead.
“This experience has also helped people to re-consider living in rural Ireland and working from home. However, without high speed broadband access available to them this would be next to impossible.”
Deputy Phelan called for the National Broadband Plan to be “fast-tracked now” and to ensure Kilkenny “isn’t left down the pecking order”.
He called on all local TDs to work together to ensure Kilkenny “might even become Ireland’s first digital county”.
Deputy Phelan added: “My fear is that larger counties with a rural hinterland such as Cork, Kerry and Wicklow would be cherry-picked first and that we would have to wait for years for the service we so urgently need.
“Now more than ever we see that the National Broadband Plan must be delivered. And fast. It’s not a luxury anymore. It’s an absolute necessity – particularly if our rural towns and villages are to survive. Broadband access is as important today as electricity was to the home 60 years ago.”
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