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Future Irish policy to "treat data centres like hospitals & road infrastructures"

24 Nov 2017

Datacentres Ireland 2017 is currently underway in Dublin, with Ireland’s Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen recently taking the stage for a much anticipated keynote.

Breen spoke about Ireland’s journey through the digital economy and shared his dream of the country becoming the ‘best in class’ in the domain of data centres – of which he believes will happen in the very near future.

“It's great to see so many businesses - both up and coming and well-established - here today and talking to the various companies that are showcasing their wares,” Breen says.

“The changes that will come in in the digital world over the next five-ten years are going to be much quicker than any of the changes that have come before. That's why we need to embrace that change and be ready for that change,” Breen says.

Breen says it’s up to the government to take charge to ensure Ireland remains an attractive place for data centre development.

“I believe that the development of data centres must be plan-led so we must have a plan that is clear and balanced in our approach to the sector. One that will take into account the variety of elements, including the regional development, the costs, benefits and of course the impact on Ireland's infrastructure,” Breen says.

“My department participates in a working group that comprises of other government departments and bodies which is examining the strategic policy approach to data centre projects. This cross-scope department has been established to develop a national policy statement on strategic importance of data centres as part of Ireland's enterprise strategy.”

Breen asserts the first draft of this data is expected this year and will pave the way for huge change.

“Data centres are going to be treated like hospitals and road infrastructures in the process which we are implementing to ensure again that Ireland does not miss out on the opportunities in this sector,” says Breen.

“There are counties within Ireland that are already taking the initiative to highlight and identify sites of particular interest within their regions that are suitable for data centres. That to me is innovative to ensure we can fast-track the planning process and facilitate interest, of which there is a substantial amount from international companies that want to have data centres in Ireland.”

However, Breen does admit that Ireland does rank poorly on fixed broadband which he says has been highlighted by many operators.

“The national broadband plan has progressed slower than anticipated,” Breen says.

“We expect to have about 80 percent of the country covered by the end of 2018 and nearly 95 percent of the country covered by early 2020.”

Looking ahead, Breen is undoubtedly confident.

“I can assure you that I will provide the leadership necessary to ensure that Ireland is the best in class in the digital economy,” concludes Breen.

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