Fianna Fáil's communications spokesman has said that rural Ireland is being put under pressure by the Government.

However, Timmy Dooley said that places affected by the lack of a national broadband plan are not just outside Dublin, they can be seen from the top windows of Leinster House.

The party's private members' motion on the issue is being debated in the Dáil this evening.

Fianna Fáil has called for an independent expert review of the tendering process for the National Broadband Plan.

Eir pulled out of the process last week leaving only one bidder remaining. 

Deputy Dooley said that small businesses cannot trade online and the impact of slow or no real broadband is making life intolerable for people.

"It's about time you and your Government took full stock of the pressure being put on people in these areas - your broadband plan is in disarray", he said.

Minister Naughten said that Fianna Fáil's request for a review of the tender for the NBP contract would push the procurement process into 2019 and plunge the entire project into uncertainty.

He told the Dáil that Deputy Dooley has admitted the consequences of his motion will result in people in rural Ireland waiting even longer for high-speed broadband.

"This is just not acceptable to me, or this Government", he said, adding that his department had said a review would take six months.

Mr Naughten insisted the remaining bidder, enet, has already identified its final issues for discussion with the procurement team and this list was submitted some weeks ago while other competition remained in the process.


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He also said the number of homes accessing high-speed broadband is steadily increasing.

"When I became minister 21 months ago, five out of ten homes had access to high speed broadband, today that is now seven out of ten. By the end of this year it will be close to eight out of ten and it also means that the vast majority of villages across Ireland will have access up to 1,000 megabits per second high speed broadband by the end of this year", he said.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said a reality check is needed in terms of delivery on the promises made to the people of rural Ireland.

During Leaders' Questions, he said that campaigning for basic services in rural Ireland, such as broadband connectivity, housing and health, is legitimate given the lack of delivery made on promises by Government.

Responding, Leo Varadkar said one of the first things he had done as Taoiseach was to appoint a minister at Cabinet level for rural and community development.