THE lack of high speed broadband in rural areas, particularly Bantry and Castletownbere, is hindering development, according to a Fine Gael activist.
Wayne O'Sullivan, who is chairperson of Beara and Bantry Young Fine GaelÂ said high speed broadband âis not a luxury these days, it is essential for everyday life', and is calling on local authorities to apply for funding under a â¬120 million WiFi4EU scheme 2017-2019.
The EU scheme aims to provide free wi-fi connectivity for citizens and visitors in public spaces, such as parks, squares, public building, libraries, health centres, and museums to the successful applicants.
He said: âFree wi-fi is essential because so many visitors rely on their mobile phones for information, such as where to stay and eat, and what visitor attractions are available locally.'
Mr O'Sullivan maintains that adequate digital resources are needed if communities are to attract visitors.Â
He suggests there is a direct correlation between good broadband and increased spending in communities.Â
And he said access to the web boosts employment opportunities.
âThe offer of free wi-fi in public places to tourists would make Bantry and the Beara Peninsula more attractive and tourist-friendly. It would also help to provide jobs for young people, and allow businesses to develop.'
Mr O'Sullivan made the point that towns like Skibbereen, with its Ludgate hub and access to high speed broadband, provides school leavers with the option of staying and working at home instead of emigrating.
âWe want to give young people throughout West Cork the same opportunity to stay and, in this regard, the local authority can help,' said the FG member.