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Matthews calls on Minister Humphreys to Support Digital Hubs for Rural Wicklow

Date: 13 April 2021

Green Party TD, Steven Matthews has written to Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, to ask for increased urgency in supporting Digital Hubs for rural areas after he was contacted by the operators of a hub in West Wicklow. Discussing the letter, Deputy Matthews said:

“Digital Hubs are something that has been of interest to me long before the pandemic but Covid has brought how important they can be to rural towns/ villages to the forefront. A significant amount of people have been forced to work from home due to the ongoing restrictions. This has brought up countless issues with poor broadband speed and other related services, particularly in rural areas where the national broadband rollout hasn’t arrived yet. However, even if in the short term, a hub or remote office space was available to them in their town/ village, it may save them commuting to Dublin or other employment bases.

“This would be of huge benefit to West/ South Wicklow in particular but any area that could potentially benefit from the introduction of a Digital Hub needs to be examined. I’m particularly thinking of Carnew, Tinahely and Rathdrum that are set to lose Bank of Ireland branches this coming September. I hope that these soon to be vacant units can be considered given their prominent locations; refitting an office would be less costly than building one from scratch and it will breathe new life into the main streets of those areas.

“One of the very small positives of the pandemic is that it has shown that the 9-5, office-based day isn’t the only way of operating. The pandemic forced a change in work practice that otherwise could have taken a decade, but it needs to be embraced. Working from home poses its own challenges in that you are removed from colleagues but the Hub in West Wicklow that contacted me has coffee docks and communal areas that could be replicated in villages across Wicklow if the funding was there. People could be working for various companies but still have that community outlet that an office offers, without the commute.

“There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to support remote working which includes Digital Hubs, but in my letter to Minister Humphreys, I asked that this be expedited as soon as possible. We are hopefully coming out the other side of this pandemic and we should not return to the status quo of before – the long and frustrating commute, the traffic and the pollution. Covid has shown us that a new way of working is possible, it just needs the funding and support from Government, and I look forward to working with Minister Humphreys to see our commitments realised”, concluded Deputy Matthews.



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