BY BRIAN MOORE
A BANDON couple in their 80s are without their landline a full five weeks after Storm Ophelia unleashed her fury on West Cork – despite their neighbouring son having his phone working perfectly.
Con Ahern and his wife live at Clancoolmore and, with only limited mobile phone coverage at their address, say their landline is vital in case of emergencies.
Speaking on his mobile from his cowshed, which is the only place on his farm he can get coverage, Con, a Vodafone customer said: ‘My son, who lives with his wife about 300 yards from my house has his landline working perfectly.
‘We need our landline badly – if anything happens it’s the only way we have of realistically contacting someone for help.
‘While my son’s phone is working, his neighbour’s house, which is less that 50 yards from his house, has no service – just like us.’
Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony (FF) claimed that certain phone service providers and their customers are being prioritised by Eir, over others in the same areas.
However, this has been strenuously denied by Eir, who have responsibility for network maintenance, regardless of the provider.
The Bandon based deputy said: ‘While customers are able to choose between a multitude of different providers, Eircom is responsible for the maintenance of the network. I have received a number of complaints from residents in West Cork who are still without phone services, five weeks after the storm.
‘These customers are very annoyed that neighbours of theirs who use Eircom for landline services have already been reconnected,’ she said.
‘Five weeks is an incredibly long time to be without a landline service. Some of the people who have been in touch with me do not have a mobile phone, so the landline is their only method of communicating with emergency services, families and friends,’ said the Bandon-based deputy, who has written to ComReg seeking an explanation.
However, a spokesperson for Eir told The Southern Star: ‘Accusations of preferential treatment for Eir retail customers are completely unfounded, and moreover, the repair process has been made clear to the deputy’s office on several occasions since Storm Ophelia.
‘Customers must report a service fault to their provider. Open Eir carries out repairs, with priority given to the oldest faults, based on when they are logged,’ said the spokesperson, adding: ‘Eir has also highlighted the strict regulations that Eir operates under, and as an open access network, this is a responsibility we take very seriously.’