Broadband speeds have long been a thorny topic in Fermanagh and the promise of superfast broadband is one that many local politicians have been questioning for the past number of months at Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

The absence of a Stormont executive did nothing to allay the fears that Fermanagh would miss out on its portion of a £150m investment into rural broadband. The money had been secured through the confidence and supply agreement between the DUP and the Tory party.

Now that Stormont is back up and running there is more doubt with Finance Minister, Conor Murphy, casting doubt on whether broadband money would be forthcoming.

Prior to the restoration of Stormont local councillors were already concerned that the Department of Economy, who oversee Project Stratum that is to roll out superfast broadband to rural areas, were “moving the goalposts” in terms of provision for Fermanagh.

At a meeting of the Policy and Regeneration Committee in September of last year local councillors agreed to seeking a judicial review into Project Stratum.

At a meeting with DfE officials, councillors expressed their concerns that the most disadvantaged areas in broadband coverage were not being prioritised and the department’s value for money approach went against what was initially promised.

Alison McCullagh, the then Director of Regeneration and Planning in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and now Chief Executive, told councillors last September that in the absence of a minister the Permanent Secretary for the Department is required to ensure value for money and that areas which are not chosen in Project Stratum will be defined as “left behinds” and will be picked up in Project Stratum Two and she said that there were contradictions in what information the Broadband Working Group had received to date.

The Minister for the DfE is the DUP’s Diane Dodds and it remains to be seen how far she casts her superfast broadband net.