"The national broadband plan will put every place name on the digital map," declared Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten TD during the launch of the Action Plan for Rural Development in Ballymahon Library today.
Minister Naughten outlined that The National Broadband Plan will deliver high speed broadband network to over 750,000 premises, covering 100,000km of road network and 96% of the land area of Ireland.
He continued, "We are here today to demonstrate in practical actions, how small communities and small countries can determine events, and not simply be buffeted by them.
"Shaping events, requires the means of communication. To overcome isolation, to challenge the sense of powerlessness in homes and in parishes across rural Ireland, our children must be able to do their homework, our small enterprises and family farms must be able to do their business; on-line if required. Debate on local issues as well as global ones, must be accessible across the full range of digital platforms. People must know, they are really part of the bigger picture.
"Just as roads came, and then electricity, the government is determined that broadband will be delivered. And, it will leave a lasting a legacy."
Minister Naughten added, "High speed broadband is already revitalising rural Ireland. The Trading Online Voucher Scheme, is a specific initiative, transforming an ideal into action. 3,000 small businesses have successfully applied for grant assistance from my Department. More than 6,000 business owner-managers have benefited from expert advice and from peer-to-peer support under the Scheme.
"Businesses like SmartHeat, nearby in Edgeworthstown – a provider of sustainable heating solutions - are investing in their online trading capability and are realising the benefits being able to sell to customers 24-hours a day online. Results are not dependent on location. They are dependent on quality broadband, in a digitally equal Ireland.
"The national broadband plan will put every place name on the digital map. It will give every parish the means to be the hub of a living community."
He said that in Ireland, four people are dying every day because of poor air quality. "Poor air quality is costing the State is €3,800 per minute. If we can make our homes more energy efficient and switch to cleaner fuels then we can reduce energy bills, create jobs, and personally contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment. This year I secured €100 million for energy efficiency projects. €30 million of this will go directly to community groups because policy that empowers people, strengthens communities."
Minister Naughten announced the launch of a new pilot Scheme specifically targeting people living in rural Ireland who are dependent on solid fuels as their primary source of heat.
"I accept that the use of peat and turf can at times be a contentious subject. But, through this pilot I am confident it will provide tangible evidence that managing our peat lands will lead to warmer homes, to reduced bills, to job creation and to a sustainable future for rural Ireland."
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