THE fact that the residents of Sherkin Island have had no home telephone service since last October after Storm Ophelia, was raised by Deputy Michael Collins (Ind) in the Dáil.
When Storm Ophelia struck, many phone lines were knocked down, as would be expected with any storm, but in quite a number of rural communities many customers were left without a home phone service for up to two months, he said.
However, up to 100 residents live on the island and this has led to a loss of business, he said. ‘Many elderly people have been left without any connection to keep them safe in their homes, and these customers still have no connection. Can Eir be asked to explain how it can leave customers for over six months without a telephone connection and still can bill them?’
Fianna Fáil Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony said she was also trying to get the phone lines on Sherkin Island working again. ‘When we contact even the managing director of Eir, we are told that unfortunately, getting wires fixed on Sherkin is weather-dependent,’ she said. ‘Surely at this stage, six months later, the line should be fixed. It is particularly hard on older people who have safety alarms that cannot work when there is no phone line.’
In response, Minister of State Joe McHugh said he was on Sherkin recently. ‘I acknowledge that this specific issue was raised again,’ he said. ‘The islanders and the community down there have great plans for a digital economy, yet are without the basics of a phone line. It is not acceptable. It is outside our hands, it is a matter for Eir, but I certainly will make formal contact with it again. It is a matter of priority. I acknowledge the great work that is being done on Sherkin Island and the councillors there are also doing absolutely tremendous work.’