Last week was dominated by news of the much-anticipated National Broadband Plan. We had Leo gushing that every home, holiday home, farm, business and school, whatever their location across the country, will be connected to the internet through high speed broadband within seven years, at a cost to us of no more than €3 billion.
Eh, wasn’t it once estimated at €500 million Leo? But hey, I suppose, thinking we’re all too thick to add up, An Taoiseach just glossed over that little issue and instead spun us a line by setting a target of signing the roll-out contract with the Granahan McCourt consortium before the annual Funderland for Farmers, sorry, National Ploughing Championships, takes place in September!
Now, while the government was initially refusing to reveal how much the private investment company will commit to the deal, according to a report in the Sunday Times, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed spilled the beans, divulging the investor’s actual stake will be ‘less than €200 million,’ making the final(ish) figure for this obnoxiously expensive project come in at an alleged €5 billion. Hmmm, while nobody’s expecting a bargain basement service, it’s my opinion we’re not exactly getting value for money here!
To be honest folks, I became concerned when senior civil servant Robert Watt, (who is employed by our government to advise on such issues), warned Leo that, as the plan posed such an enormous financial risk, and only provided questionable benefits, he felt the whole thing should be called off, but sure, that didn’t bother our Leo whom, looking through his election-time rose-tinted spectacles, decided he’d plough ahead regardless and plunge all of our country’s money into fixing this one particular problem, thus completely ignoring our very serious housing crisis.
Look, while rural Roscommon does desperately need high speed broadband in order to keep communities cohesive, etc., it hasn’t escaped me that, to date, we’ve had no less than four ministers, (including our own Denis Naughten) trying to deliver this strategy, and, I have to say, it’s my opinion that the whole project has now more or less morphed into a massive botch job, and, given the cock-up that is the National Children’s Hospital, I’d imagine the costs will balloon even further!
Due to this, I reckon it’s about time our government realised they don’t possess the ability to develop and deliver its citizens with any major project on any level whatsoever. I’d go so far as to question whether they even have the knowledge, the cop on, or the technical skills required to deliver us with anything other than over-inflated, choppy-changey, pie-in-the-sky initiatives, that, once started, end up costing us billions, leading to the deal-makers spectacularly and unapologetically getting away with cocking things up and never being held accountable! Too harsh? I don’t think so, especially given you and I are being made to pay through the nose for a product, nay an asset, we won’t ever possess. I mean, we probably won’t even be able to list the plugs, cables and adaptors as part of our worldly goods.
Let me reiterate, there’s no doubt we need national broadband, there’s no doubt we’re becoming more dependent on it, and there’s no doubt the service won’t be cheap; that much we can all agree upon – but I do wonder if this government has ever, at any stage of this process, had any notion of a vision beyond the one where they promised us the actual service; as in, if they ever sat down and looked at how it would be delivered and how we would use it, and indeed, how it would positively impact and connect those of us living in rural communities?
I also wonder that if, in the likely event the whole operation falls flat (and it may), if anyone, anyone at all in Dáil Éireann, has even had the tiniest bit of foresightedness to put a contingency plan in place? Leo and pals would be well advised to bear in mind that, as they’re the ones who’ve decided to ignore sound advice and thrown caution, (and our money) to the wind, they’ll be the ones whom, in time, will be judged on whether or not they could deliver on any of their promises! I hope for this country’s sake, their broadband efforts bear fruit!
A green future is not top of our government’s agenda!
On the subject of climate change…I’m someone who is very environmentally friendly and aware and who actively, along with hubby, recycles, etc. Well, this week I’d have to say that while Minister Richard Bruton‘s emotional statement that “Everyone will have to make changes,” may look great as a headline, it’s clear to me that, given only six TDs showed their faces to vote on last week’s historic declaration that saw our country becoming the second nation worldwide to proclaim a climate and biodiversity emergency, a green future is not top of our policymakers’ agendas! As a result, I’m now assuming that, like everything else, until our farmers have no land left due to flooding, until our country has no clean water left to drink, and until our kids/grandkids have no parks or forests left to enjoy, etc., that, along with homelessness, hospital waiting lists, the trolley crises, and how Brexit will negatively impact rural businesses, the serious issue of global warming is not an election big ticket item, and will only be addressed when finding a solution has gone way out of our reach.
Should parents pay the price for kids’ bad behaviour?
Everyone will have an opinion regarding TD Willie O’Dea’s suggestion that parents of kids who cause public disturbances or who engage in anti-social behaviour should be sanctioned “either through fines or having their social welfare stopped”.
Now, while I’m someone who has a low tolerance for unruly kids/teens, I have to say that yes, I agree with Deputy O’Dea’s sentiments that parents absolutely need to take responsibility for their kids’ behaviour, but, steady on, stopping somebody’s social welfare payments is a bit tyrannical!
Look, as a soft-touch mother, I know that parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world, and, thank God I was lucky in that my kids never once brought an ounce of trouble to my door. However, I have witnessed some parents fall about laughing while their toddler removed their nappy and painted the sitting room walls with their own poo.
So, perhaps in order to avoid the type of anti-social actions Willie is talking about taking place down the line, instead of being an over-indulgent, so-called no-rules, permissive parent and viewing little Jimmy’s/Mary’s early-years’ poo-portraits as him/her being creative, my suggestion, (as a non-expert), would be to consider very gently checking the cherubs and establishing an age-appropriate culture of accountability in the home – because if O’Dea has his way, some parents may end up being seriously out of pocket!