Bailie Says Rural Dwellers Treated As Second Class Citizens With Broadband

Downpatrick area Councillor Naomi Bailie (Sinn Féin) has said that rural dwellers are being treated as second class citizens when it comes to Broadband roll-out. dn_screenCllr Bailie, who is a member of Sinn Fein’s Enterprise Advisory Group, was speaking after it was revealed that DETI will not achieve the Programme for Government (PfG) Commitment to provide fixed line broadband above 2mbps to all premises by 2015. She said: “In an update to the DETI Committee today members were informed that the target of providing Broadband Services of 2mpbs to all households by 31 March 2015 will not be fully met due toa combination of accessibility problems in some areas and financial challenges. “I and my party colleagues are extremely frustrated at this turn of events as this was a PfG commitment with the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) the lead department for delivery. “BT, as the company responsible for carrying out the work also has serious questions to answer. Rural dwellers are entitled to have access to the same basic services as their urban counterparts. In the modern world, high speed internet access is as necessary for people of all ages and backgrounds, regardless of where they live, as is the telephone or car. “Many rural dwellers rightly feel that they are being treated as second-class citizens by telecommunications providers and by DETI; those living in areas such as Ballyhornan, Raholp, Saul, Tyrella and Ballykinler. “I have worked closely with numerous residents and community groups right across Down District to upgrade broadband. This news is a major setback for all those who were holding on for the role out of rural broadband which the Department had committed to. This cannot be allowed to continue. The Minister must act as a matter of urgency to ensure whatever obstacles encountered are overcome and the target date is achieved.”