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 Header Item National Broadband Plan (Continued)
 Header Item National Mitigation Plan

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 959 No. 7

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten] I am not going to go down that road. I am keeping a watching brief over this. There are specialist teams involved with this on a day to day basis and I believe the project, once the contract is signed, will deliver far more quickly than people expect. Further, it will deliver not just for the next five or ten years but for the next 25 years.

Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock The Minister did not answer the question about-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Let us have some agreement. We will take three short supplementary questions together and then have one answer from the Minister.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley If he has all the information and knows what the price is and that the companies have the capacity to roll it out, how in God's name has the Minister found himself involved in such an intricate and open-ended scheme and that he cannot ask his own people to give us a beginning and an end in terms of the process? While the process remains open-ended, the Minister knows full well that it probably will not be completed by the time he leaves office. That he wants to protect the State is a fine statement for the Minister to make - so do I - but at some point he has to do his business or get off the pot. The reality is that households, young people, businessmen and farmers are crying out for access to this service. They are looking in here and wondering how it could be so complicated because the Minister keeps telling us that he has all this information and that it is a matter of picking one or the other to do it. He has done his deal with Eir, which will roll it out to 300,000 homes in a flash. Surely to God it is not beyond the Minister's capacity or that of those in his Department to identify one or two people to deliver this and get it done.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley The Minister has been saying for a week that the tender process is competitive and everything is okay with it but he knows and I know that it was significantly skewed once SIRO pulled out. It is also skewed by the fact that Eir has gone in and cherry-picked the 300,000 households. I welcome every connection that is made. We want to see connections. However, if a county council wants to put a new front door on a house and the front door costs €501, it has to get three tenders for it. Any public body or local county council doing that type of work would have to get three tenders for it. Here we have a multi-million pound project with hundreds of millions of taxpayers' money going into it, but we have no control over it and this House, the democratically elected Parliament of the State, has no answers at this point, and we are this far down the road.

The reason it is complex is because it is a muddle and a mess. I told the Minister that this has become the plaything of capitalism. It is no longer a State broadband scheme. All the taxpayer will do is shovel the money into it. That is my concern. On its roll-out, the 300,000 Eir households will not cover huge areas that are awaiting the national broadband plan. A constituent of mine who is living between Geashill and Mountmellick and is running a business has almost no broadband. It is chronically slow. Eir is rolling out to within 800 m of that business but it cannot get coverage across the length of six football fields. This constituent contacted the Department directly and was told that the Department thought it would take three to five years before they would get it. These people cannot wait five years. The businesses in counties Laois and Offaly and other counties throughout the country cannot wait five years for it.

Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock The Minister mentioned the auction for the 3.6 Ghz spectrum, if I am not mistaken. I would like to know the justification for it. My understanding is that there is not a definitive definition of 5G at this point in time. There is no proper definition because the technology is moving at such a quick pace and the innovation cycle is getting a lot shorter. What is the justification for the auction? What permutations will that auction have and how will it impact the provision for communications for the Garda and the emergency services in the country? Will they be adversely affected as a result of the auction?

We have not had in the Minister's own words an explanation or an understanding from his perspective as to why one of the bidders pulled out. We have read a lot in the press but we, in this House, as I understand it, have not heard directly from the Minister himself as to his perspective on why SIRO pulled the plug.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I call the Minister.

Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock In his own words-----

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten Deputy Sherlock can read the blacks of last week when I read exactly the reason. As I have said here today, it was a commercial decision that the company took and, as the Deputy knows, it uses a different route to the door to that of the other two bidders.

Deputy Stanley spoke about the requirement to have three tenders. That is grand when we know what type of a door we want and how many windows and panels we want in it. We are not dealing with that.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley We do know what we want.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The Deputy does not.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley This has been debated here for six years.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten This is the fundamental difference. What we are doing has never been done anywhere else in the world. I am open to correction on this but, as of today, we have broken all records. Some 13% of premises outside of our cities have access to pure fibre. This is not happening anywhere else in the world. We are at the cutting edge. Vint Cerf, who was at the Digital Data Summit on 16 June, said that Ireland is working on "one of the hardest problems" we know about, which is a "[h]ighly distributed, highly rural, low density population". He continued, "So your success in this will be a real beacon for other populations that have this similar sort of rural population." The globe is looking at what we are doing.

It is a different procurement process, which adds to the challenges, but this is about a 25 year contract. It is not just about the here and now but the medium and long term as well. We do not want a system that is installed and obsolete before it becomes operational, as has been the case in the past. Public money was spent on electronic voting machines and the personnel, payroll and related systems, PPARS, which was obsolete before it even went live. We will have a system that not only meets the needs of the current generation but future generations of this country, particularly those in rural parts of Ireland. We will have a situation where the people of Ballymacward by this time next year will have better broadband than is in Brooklyn, New York.

Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock I asked a question about the auction of the 3.6 Ghz spectrum.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten It will not have any impact on the emergency services. It is being auctioned by ComReg and allows for the deployment of the new innovative technologies. Initially it will be 4G plus, but trials are already being proposed on 5G. There will be pilots by some of these companies.

Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock What is 5G?

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten It is 300 Mbps.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Deputy and the Minister will have to have a chat afterwards.

National Mitigation Plan

 26. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten his views on concerns that the national mitigation strategy will fail to reduce Ireland's carbon emissions sufficiently resulting in significant fines from the European Union and dangerous weather change worldwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42134/17]

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley There are serious concerns that Ireland's national mitigation strategy will fail to reduce Ireland's carbon emissions sufficiently resulting in significant fines from the European Union and dangerous weather changes around the globe. Will the Minister enlighten us on where he is at on that particular strategy?

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I published Ireland’s first statutory national mitigation plan in July 2017. This is an important initial step to enable the transition to a low carbon economy and society. The plan identifies 70 mitigation measures and 106 related actions to address the immediate challenge to 2020 and to prepare for the EU targets that Ireland will take on for 2030.

The latest projections of greenhouse gas emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency indicate that Ireland is likely to fall short of our 2020 target to reduce emissions by 20% below 2005 levels. Emissions from those sectors of the economy covered by Ireland's 2020 targets could be between 4% and 6% below 2005 levels by 2020. The projected shortfall to our targets in 2020 reflects both the constrained investment capacity over the past decade due to the economic crisis and the extremely challenging nature of the target itself. In fact, it is now accepted that Ireland’s 2020 target was not consistent with what would be achievable on an EU wide cost-effective basis. While Ireland is likely to have to purchase additional allowances towards compliance with our 2020 targets, the cost of compliance is not at this stage expected to be significant.

Given the complexity of the issues and the time horizon involved, it is not possible for the national mitigation plan to provide a complete roadmap to achieve our 2050 objective. Similarly, it does not yet provide a complete roadmap to meeting Ireland's expected targets between 2021 and 2030 under the draft EU effort sharing regulation. Instead, the plan will be subject to formal review at least once every five years and will also become a living document, accessible on my Department's website, where it will be updated on an ongoing basis as analysis, dialogue and technological innovation generate further cost-effective sectoral mitigation options.


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