LANDLINES on Sherkin Island are finally coming back into service this week, more than six months after phone lines went dead during Storm Ophelia.
Matt Murphy, the director of Sherkin Island Marine Station says he ‘cannot fathom’ how it has taken so long to restore service to the island.
“We lost it during the storm, the underwater cable was lost in October,” he said.
“It has had an unbelievable effect on us and on business. No-one could get through to us.”
Eir’s 4G mobile coverage has been available, but Mr Murphy said mobile reception on the island was uneven and not an adequate replacement for the landlines.
It took seven weeks for eir’s supplier to manufacture and deliver a replacement speciality submarine cable but weather and other factors delayed the repairs.
“A plan has been in place to conduct the necessary work since January, once eir took delivery of the replacement cable,” the company said in a statement. “However, due to local weather conditions and the unavailability of the required boat, the work to restore service suffered further delays.”
Concerns over monuments in the area added to delays.
“In early February, eir was contacted by the National Monuments Service, which raised questions concerning a number of recorded monuments in the immediate vicinity of the proposed cable route. The service sought clarifications and reassurances in advance of any works being conducted.
“All necessary clarifications were provided and the work to repair the submarine cable took place last week. Our technicians are currently working this week to reconnect service for any additional individual line faults that may remain.”
There were also concerns that the panic alarms of elderly residents did not work, with at least one person reportedly suffering a fall during the six-month period, but eir would not comment, saying: “Panic alarms may have been impacted by the lack of fixed voice services, but an interruption can depend upon the technology used. Many alarm systems use both mobile and fixed-line connectivity to support the monitoring function, so it is impossible to comment on any specific case without further details.”
This is the second time in the last 10 years that the submarine cable has been damaged and residents have expressed concerns about it taking so long to fix, should another extreme weather event occur.
Eir said all customers should have service restored by close of business on Friday and would receive credit for the lack of service: “This is based upon the value of their monthly bundle price and will be applied one month after service has been restored.”