Ruairí Ó Murchu has been named Sinn Féin’s new spokesperson on communications, networks and broadband, shadowing Green Party leader and Minister for Climate Action, Communications and Transport.
The Dundalk-based TD is sharing the shadow brief for that Department with Meath East TD Darren O’Rourke. Last week, O’Rouke was named as the spokesperson by Mary Lou McDonald but he and Ó Murchu will share the workload, with Ó Murchu dealing with matters pertaining to communications and broadband.
Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald included the first-time TD in her announcement of a further 11 spokespersons positions on Tuesday, in addition to the 14 named last Thursday. That list included Imelda Munster who was named as spokesperson for Media, Culture, Arts, Tourism and Sport.
“I am honoured to have been selected for this position. Everyone in Louth, and indeed across the State, knows what a joke broadband is in swathes of rural Ireland,” Deputy Ó Murchu said on Tuesday. “The Covid-19 pandemic has cemented the fact that broadband is essential to the everyday lives of people in every walk of life.
“We know that remote working will be a far bigger part of the lives of workers in the coming months and years. We need to see more employees working from home, or in their local towns – meaning less traffic on the roads and more time with their families.”
The first-time TD lashed out at the National Broadband Plan, labelling it an “omnishambles”. The National Broadband Plan was the previous government’s plan to rollout high speed broadband to 1.1 million people living and working in the 540,000 premises – including homes, schools, businesses and farms – where commercial operators would not commit to deliver the service.
“Many rural businesses will not see high speed broadband any time soon. Sinn Féin has proposed the establishment of digital hubs in rural towns, replicating the success of the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen. The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund should partner with others to invest €1 billion over a decade regenerating town centres, including the creation of broadband hubs with work spaces for local businesses, and this is something that I want to work towards’.
Ó Murchu said the party was committed to the creation of an Office of a Digital Safety Commissioner and roll-out of a National Strategy on Children’s Cyber Safety.