Updated: 28/09/17 : 06:03:21
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MEP praises Sligo County Council and Sligo BID on public Wi-Fi intention

Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands Northwest, Matt Carthy, has encouraged Irish local authorities to apply for funding under a new EU scheme aimed at increasing availability of WiFi facilities in public areas.

Speaking from Brussels this week to The Longford Leader, Matt Carthy said: "Following the adoption of the Wifi4EU file in the European Parliament recently, local authorities across Ireland can apply to the scheme later this year.

"As Shadow Rapporteur of this file in the Transport and Tourism Committee, I ensured that amendments to prioritise rural areas in the scheme’s roll-out were included in the final text adopted by the Parliament.

"The passing of this legislation provides an opportunity for areas deprived of internet connectivity to avail of free public Wifi hotspots, with €120 million set aside for the initiative phase of the scheme.

"I welcome the steps taken by Sligo County Council and Sligo Business Improvement District, who have outlined their intention to apply for the scheme.

It is crucial that other local authorities also apply for the scheme as early as possible once applications open. EU funding will provide for the equipment and installation costs for the internet access spots.

"I would encourage other public sector bodies across this regionto apply for the scheme also, which has the potential to bring internet connectivity to areas where the government has failed on promises of a rural broadband scheme. It is unacceptable for a digital divide to exist between rural and urban areas.

"Access to internet connectivity is essential to the promotion of tourism and to the development of local domestic economies, particularly those dependent on SMEs. Small businesses depend upon a decent infrastructure and reliable internet connectivity in order toreach their potential.

"The passing of the Wifi4EU regulation provides an opportunity for rural areas to avail of internet connectivity in public spaces, and I encourage and welcome the applications of local authorities."