The Taoiseach has dismissed Opposition proposals to involve the ESB in rolling-out high-speed broadband as just a "pig-in-a-poke" and "not a serious alternative".

Leo Varadkar argued that plans from Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin would not work because "... they are asking a company to do it, that does not want to do it."

The Taoiseach said both parties would also "probably" be violating State aid rules, and EU Single Market rules, by giving a subsidy to a company without a competition.

He contended the Opposition would not say how much their plan would cost; could not say how long roll-out would be delayed; and could not guarantee 100% coverage across the country.

The comments come after Sinn Féin said they will move a motion in the Dáil stating that the ESB should be the "chosen vehicle" to deliver the National Broadband Plan.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald said the ESB is a semi-State body with a huge track record of delivering such infrastructural projects.

She said that while everyone accepts there is an "unanswerable need" to deliver rural broadband there has been alarm by the Government's management the project.

In response a spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said that the ESB was part of the bidding process and decided to withdraw from that process.

The spokesperson added that the ESB could only get the contract if the entire process was restarted and there would be no guarantee that ESB would win the contract.

Speaking in Kells in Co Meath today, the Taoiseach dismissed Sinn Féin’s proposed Private Members Motion as "a political stunt" - adding the motion would not be legally binding on the Government anyway.

Mr Varadkar argued that under the Government's plan which is due to be signed off in the autumn... "within a year of that, tens of thousands of homes and hundreds of hubs will be connected. And the year after that, hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in every county in Ireland will be connected."

The Taoiseach added: "Essentially what Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin are saying to rural Ireland is 'wait'. We think rural Ireland has waited long enough."