Government is committed to rolling out highspeed broadband to rural Longford, says Minister Humphreys

Denis Naughten's resignation will not stop the rollout of the National Broadband Plan

Jessica Thompson

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Jessica Thompson

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jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

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Minister Naughten's resignation will not stop government from rolling out National Broadband Plan

The government's main priority, following the resignation of Minister for Communications Denis Naughten yesterday afternoon, is to roll out the National Broadband Plan "as a matter of urgency".

That's according to Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD, who officially opened the recruitment information days for Center Parcs Longford Forest earlier this morning.

Minister Naughten stepped down from his position unexpectedly yesterday and, in a brief statement from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, it was revealed that the Minister had a number private meetings with David McCourt, the head of a company bidding for the National Broadband Plan.

Read more: Naughten 'left himself open to allegations of a conflict of interest potentially jeopardising' National Broadband Plan

Speaking to the local media at the opening of this weekend's recruitment days, Minister Humphreys paid tribute to Denis Naughten.

"He was an extremely hardworking minister and he did everything he could to progress the issue of broadband," she said.

"However, unfortunately, the fact that he had these meetings put into question his impartiality in terms of the National Broadband Plan, so I think that he did the honourable thing.

"It's a very difficult day for him; it's a very difficult day for his family. But at the end of the day, there were question marks over the number of meetings he had."

Despite anxieties regarding the future of the National Broadband Plan and the government's priorities now one of its ministers had resigned, Minister Humphreys is adamant that the government is doing everything in its power to ensure the plan goes ahead.

Read more: Longford firm takes aim at latest setback to hit national broadband rollout

"The government is absolutely committed to the National Broadband Plan," she affirmed.

"There are many people out there who have got high-speed broadband and, nevertheless, there are those in rural parts of Ireland - and I am one of those people - that have not got high-speed broadband.

"We are absolutely focused on progressing this issue as a matter of urgency and as a matter of priority for the government."