Sherkin's elderly in danger without panic buttons

April 16th, 2018 1:11 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Sherkin Island pier.

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ELDERLY people on Sherkin no longer have access to a life-saving facility because a damaged submarine cable has meant that the island has been without a phone service since Storm Ophelia. Since last October, people who rely the pendant or wristband panic buttons have not been able to use them because they cannot be contacted on their landline.

A spokesperson for Eir confirmed that the company had experienced delays owing to the weather and in relation to queries from the National Monuments Service about a number of monuments in the vicinity, but he confirmed that the vital repairs will be carried out next Tuesday.

One well-known islander, Matt Murphy, confirmed that he uses an Aid Call Unit, but the 82-year old admits that he is ‘blessed with good health.’

He said he wears it because it covers him within 30 to 40 metres of his Sherkin Island Marine Station. He made the point that a mobile phone is of no use if he slips or falls outdoors, on the stairs, or in a different room to wherever he might have left his mobile phone.

Furthermore, he said not everyone on the island has good mobile phone coverage. He said he knows of one lady who has to lean out the top window in her house to try and get coverage. And there are others who have none at all.

Independent TD, Michael Collins, said Eir’s response was just not good enough: ‘It beggars belief that elderly people who are paying an annual subscription for the Aid Call Unit have been treated with such callous disregard.’

After driving around the island to see first hand the situation Michael Collins said he was incredulous to find cables lying on the roadway. He said: ‘People are actually throwing them up on a ditch to get them out of their way.

‘Without a landline,’ Deputy Collins said, ‘the island’s elderly community has been put in danger. And it is also having a knock-on effect on businesses on the island.’

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