Malinbeg / Mhálainn Bhigscenic village, in Donegal's Wild Atlantic Way, is now connected to the rest of the world thanks to a pilot project to tackle mobile phone blackspot coverage. Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. has officially launched this project, which has been delivered by Donegal Digital partner Donegal County Council in partnership with the local community and Vodafone telecommunications company.
"The connection of Málainn Bhig to the mobile network is an important symbol of what can be achieved when we get people to buy into an idea and push to make it a success. With the Government committed to the rollout of broadband our communities are going to become more and more connected", explained Minister Joe McHugh T.D.
Funded under the Department of Rural & Community Development’s Digital Innovation Programme, this project has been rolled out as part of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce which was set up in 2016 to tackle immediate issues where a lack of mobile phone coverage was identified as a hindrance to the local community and businesses in the area.
On the one hand, Leas Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Niamh Kennedy added that, “there was a very clear need for this project where the lack of even rudimentary mobile phone coverage affected the most basic of services in the locality including outside communication, access to emergency services and all other areas that people have come to rely on mobile communication”.
On the other hand, Cllr Noel Jordan, Cathaoirleach of Donegal Municipal District explained that "this initiative will have a huge impact on the lives of those living in Malinbeg and the surrounding area. We take mobile phone coverage for granted and so many services rely on the availability of what has become an essential service. Being able to use a mobile phone for everyday services including emergency and medical services is welcomed by everyone in the area as well as opportunities to set up and grow business in this stunning location."
Through the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, Donegal County Council identified the lack of mobile phone coverage as a key hindrance to the quality of life and development in this part of Donegal and Brian Boyle, Head of IS with Donegal County Council believes that the support of the community was essential in the successful delivery of the project. “Donegal County Council developed this innovative model of engaging with the telecommunication service provider and the local community. Through the role of the Broadband Officer, funding was identified and secured through DRCD’s Digital Innovation Programme, and we are here today to launch the successful completion of mobile phone coverage at MalinBeg.”