The National Broadband Plan has seen “effectively no progress at all” this year, according to a rural development network.
It comes after The Business Post revealed that just 4,000 homes have been reached so far this year.
The rollout was expected to reach 115,000 new homes in 2021.
On Newstalk Breakfast, Irish Rural Link CEO Seamus Boland said people in rural Ireland are “shocked, surprised and really devastated” at the figures.
“We knew there would be some slowdown – that would be normal and to be expected given the circumstances we are in with the pandemic etc but 4,000 out of 115, 000 that is effectively no progress at all,” he said.
“Really rural Ireland and all of Ireland is so dependent on broadband at this stage that this type of progress means, you would have to question the whole project because, is there anything going to be delivered, given the necessity and given the urgency.
“All round shock is the best way to describe it.”
The figures come just weeks after the company rolling out the project, National Broadband Ireland (NBI), said it was making progress despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Mr Boland called on the communications minister Eamon Ryan to make a full statement on the matter.
“I don’t know whether the fines come into place or not, I don’t know the legal situation, but certainly there are supposed to be fines in place,” he said.
“A delay of this magnitude is, in my opinion, above and beyond COVID so we need explanations and we need assurances.
Rural businesses are either operating out of homes or small places and the best they can do is kind of a slow-motion variety of broadband - that is not good enough, given the pressures to stay working in rural regions.”
He warned that the delays could bring the Government’s plans for business hubs in towns around the country in to question.
“We need assurances for sure and we need something to tell us this target will be wrapped up very, very rapidly,” he said.
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