Thursday, 24 June 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
13. Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the discussions she has had with the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on the issue of broadband penetration and the effects this is having on tourism operators, particularly in rural areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27233/10]
Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport (Deputy Mary Hanafin): Since my appointment last March as Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport I have not had the opportunity to meet with the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to specifically discuss access to broadband facilities, although I obviously meet with all of my Cabinet colleagues on a very regular basis. The matter of broadband access has however, been raised on a number of occasions at official level since the publication of the Tourism Renewal Group’s report in October 2009.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the provision of telecommunications services, including broadband services, is a matter for electronic communications service providers who operate in a fully liberalised market. In cases of market failure the Government will intervene, where appropriate and possible. I am informed by my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, that Government policy relating to the electronic communications market in Ireland is set out in “Next Generation Broadband — Gateway to a Knowledge Ireland”, which was published by him in June 2009.
The Government has undertaken a number of initiatives to bring broadband to those parts of the country where operators have been unable to offer services on a commercial basis and the roll out of the National Broadband Scheme is progressing. I can assure the Deputy that the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport is fully conscious of the importance of broadband connectivity to tourism businesses and will continue to highlight this to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
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