The announcement by National Broadband Ireland that they will connect 3,500 homes and businesses in County Galway in the first quarter of 2021 is very welcome news for everybody working and studying from home.

Senator Seán Kyne

The Government has announced plans for changes to working practices for many in a bid to improve work-life balance and allow many workers, including public servants, the option of working from home or remotely. The benefits, including reduced time lost to commuting, additional time with family or rest time, as well as reduced costs and carbon footprints, are all evident.

To make this policy a reality, two things are needed. These are working hubs and broadband connections. Ba mhaith liom tréaslú le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta as ucht an dul chun cinn atá déanta aige le cúpla bliain anuas an polasaí Gteic nó gréasán digiteach a chur chun cinn. Seo polasaí atá curtha chun cinn ag straitéis Údarás na Gaeltachta chun áiseanna den scoth a thógáil trasna na Gaeltachtaí agus ar na hoileáin cois cósta le ceangal leathanbhanda ardluais. Tá Gteiceanna lonnaithe sa Spidéal, ar an gCeathrú Rua, i gCarna agus sna Forbacha i nGaillimh, i nGaoth Dobhair i nDún na nGall, i mBéal Átha an Ghaorthaidh i gCorcaigh, agus i mBéal an Mhuirthead i Maigh Eo. Tá a lán de seo ar fáil do chomhlachtaí nua ag tosnú amach agus do dhaoine chun obair óna gceantair féin.

The Gteic and other centres across regional areas, such as the PorterShed in Galway, are important regional hubs. The availability of high-speed Internet connections is vital to remote and home working. I welcome the first homes being connected under the national broadband plan recently. The investment, as agreed and put forward by a Fine Gael-led Government, ensures all promises will have access to high-speed connections through state aid. It was the correct decision and it has been reaffirmed in the Covid-19 era.

The recent announcement by National Broadband Ireland indicates that connections in Galway are planned to be built out from May to July this year in areas surrounding Galway city, including Furbo, Barna, Boleybeg, Tonabrocky, Corcullen and some of the Moycullen townlands, such as Tooreeny, Clooniff, Tumnasrah and Poulnaclogh. These connections are good for remote working, education, leisure and other activities. The Leader might agree that the decision to invest in state aid to provide high-speed broadband connections was the right decision before and this has certainly been affirmed by the events arising from Covid-19.