SDLP councillor Adam Gannon (pictured) has written to the DUP Economy Minister Gordon Lyons to raise digital poverty in Fermanagh after a new study revealed Fermanagh and Omagh was the least digitally connected area in the UK.

The study, from marketing company N.Rich, found one in eight people in Fermanagh and Omagh had not used the internet in the past three months, while 31.1 per cent had zero coverage for superfast broadband.

Councillor Gannon wrote to Minister Lyons to establish what could be done to improve connectivity and get more people online.

The Erne West councillor said: “No one in Fermanagh will be surprised that we have the worst digital connections in the North or Britain. The only surprise is that it has taken so long for someone to do something about it. You might think this would have been a priority given that the former First Minister represented this constituency and her party has held the Economy portfolio for 14 years. That nearly a third of people in this area cannot access superfast broadband is disgraceful and it’s damning that Fermanagh and Omagh has been deemed the worst area for digital access in the whole of the UK.

“As a teacher I know how important online access is to our young people. It has become an important learning tool, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic when pupils were asked to learn remotely and it’s also used extensively by young people both recreationally and to socialise.

“Being unable to utilise online services can also significantly impact on our local businesses. Shops, boutiques and businesses here could benefit from selling their goods online and many of the measures used to help manage the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses required online access, an unreliable connection can be the difference between surviving or going under.

“I have written to Minister Lyons asking him to urgently address the problems that leave Fermanagh and Omagh in last place when it comes to connectivity. Our local people must enjoy the same online access as people in the rest of the North and beyond.”