FF compares Denis Naughten to ‘Comical Ali’ over broadband issue

Timmy Dooley says response from Communications Minister not credible and unrealistic

 Fianna Fáil spokesman on communications Timmy Dooley speaking to media at Leinster House on Tuesday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Fianna Fáil spokesman on communications Timmy Dooley speaking to media at Leinster House on Tuesday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Fianna Fáil has likened the reaction of Minister for Communications Denis Naughton to the withdrawal of Eir from the the National Broadband Plan to that of Iraqi general “Comical Ali” ahead of the fall of Baghdad.

The party’s communications spokesman Timmy Dooley has portrayed the response of Mr Naughten as not credible and unrealistic and called for a two-month review of the tendering process.

Comparing him to the former head of the Iraqi minister for information Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, Mr Dooley said: “With the country in flames behind him he put up his hands and said: ‘This is good news, we are going to get shovels in the ground more quickly. This is going to be delivered ahead of schedule and under budget’.

“I don’t think that anybody in the real world believes that. It’s time now for the Government to pull the Minister aside and say, ‘we have a problem let’s address it’.”

Last week, Eir - which was one of two bidders tendering to give supply broadband connectivity to the remaining 540,000 premises in the State without it - announced it was pulling out of the process, leaving only one consortium, Enet-SSA, in the field.

Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, who became known as Comical Ali during the Iraq war of 2003. File photograph: Reuters
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, who became known as Comical Ali during the Iraq war of 2003. File photograph: Reuters

Fianna Fáil has tabled a motion calling on the Government to halt the process and conduct a full independent expert review of the tendering process.

“This is not just about 540,000 premises that have no prospect of gaining broadband anytime soon.

“We need to review where we are at. We need to take stock before we proceed.

“If that involves the State taking a far greater stake in the delivery of the broadband then so be it. We can’t wait for another 18 to 20 months to see the whole thing collapse,” he said.

Mr Dooley was speaking at a Fianna Fáil media event in Leinster House on Tuesday alongside Deputy Anne Rabbitte and Deputy James Lawless.

In responses with an emphasis on rural Ireland, Mr Dooley said it was imperative that existing rail lines remain open and called on the Minister for Transport Shane Ross to ensure its future.

“We would expect the Government in the west of Ireland to invest in the rail service in the same way they are investing in the Luas and the Dart in the city,” he said.

Ms Rabbitte also said she would oppose any change to the Dublin to Galway intercity service. She said the CEO of Iarnród Éireann had said before Christmas that it did not have the money to “put another carriage on the Dublin to Galway line.”

Mr Lawless said that in nort Kildare, no money had been spent on extra carriages or rolling stock in three years even though commuters could not get onto trains or into carparks in commuting towns.