BY JACKIE KEOGH
AS part of their campaign to improve West Cork’s broadband service, members of the Municipal District have asked the Minister for Communications, Alex White, to come to West Cork to meet the people affected by the poor, or nonexistent, service.
Independent councillor Michael Collins raised the issue as a notice of motion at the council’s monthly meeting in Bantry on Monday in a bid to highlight the seriousness of the issue and how it is affecting ordinary householders, as well as big business.
In Bantry town, he said, Rowa Pharmaceuticals Ltd, an international company employing 100 people, is having major problems with its internet access, and Mr Collins suggested that Minister White take a meeting with this company and others.
‘It’s not just pockets of the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, or Beara, that is affected there are places in Bandon and Clonakilty too that have poor broadband and mobile phone coverage,’ said Mr Collins. ‘Broadband on my own peninsula, the Mizen Peninsula, hasn’t improved one iota in 15 years,’ he added.
Joe Carroll (FF) said a bad broadband service affects all aspects of life in West Cork – not just people wanting to carry out business transactions, but also in terms of attracting inwards investment and property sales.
Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) paid tribute to community activists, such as the Borlin and Coomhola group, who are agitating for an improved service. ‘We are all about making West Cork a more attractive place to live in and communication access is a vital part of the overall picture. In fact, it is essential.’
Sinn Féin’s Paul Hayes said: ‘Broadband is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. Everything is done online, from tourism bookings to students wanting to research projects for their homework.’ He also pointed out that more and more people are forced to go online to do their banking due to the closure of regional branches.
Fine Gael’s Mary Hegarty said she hoped that Minister White would visit Rowa Pharmaceuticals Ltd and take the time to meet homeowners who are frustrated by the lack of service.
She also pointed out that there are positive developments, such as the decision by Amazon in 2012 to create a seller support division in Bantry, an initiative that created 30 new jobs.
Although he supported the motion inviting the minister to West Cork, Noel O’Donovan (FG) suggested that the members of the Municipal District take a proactive approach by researching the problem more thoroughly, identifying possible solutions, and then seeking a high level meeting with the minister.