According to the Government’s own website 40% of marts across the country have a poor broadband service which requires upgrading, says Denis Naughten TD.
“Solely based on a review of the Government broadband website www.Broadband.gov.ie 68 marts across the country can be identified and 19 of these marts are included under the National Broadband Plan to have their service upgraded,” stated Denis Naughten.
“With 40% of marts failing to have decent broadband then the online-only sales of stock needs to be reviewed, particularly with large numbers of weanlings and store cattle coming to market at present.
“While some marts may be able to manage with inadequate connections, when the access to online databases as well as farmers using Wi-Fi to bid for stock from their cars, this all puts significant pressure on the limited broadband connection speeds.
“I am also aware of the fact that 47 marts designated as having a good broadband service were struggling with their connections before sales went online, even though these connections will not be upgraded due to their failure to have the broadband database corrected.
“Clearly, we need to see flexibility from the Department of Agriculture in terms of buyers having access to sales rings in a socially distanced manner in light of the broadband challenges ‘officially’ faced by 40% of our marts.
“This is a point that I put to the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue last Saturday afternoon when the sales system went down. I believe that the Minister and mart operators need to put a sustainable and robust sales system in place which takes account of the poor broadband connectivity of some mart locations.
“What is really frustrating is the fact that the vast majority of our marts are in towns where they were supposed to have a broadband connection of at least 30mbps and for those marts, and other premises who don’t register their poor broadband connection under the National Broadband Plan with the Department of Communications, they will lose out on the current measures being taken to upgrade the national broadband network, leaving them at risk of future lockdowns” concluded Denis Naughten.