Pensioners still without phones since gorse fires

Pensioners aged in their 70s and 80s are among 20 Eircom customers who have been left without phone lines since the gorse fires in west Donegal at the beginning of the month.

Pensioners aged in their 70s and 80s are among 20 Eircom customers who have been left without phone lines since the gorse fires in west Donegal at the beginning of the month.

Phone lines damaged by the fires in the Dungloe area have not been repaired because Eircom teams have not been permitted by a landowner to come on to his land to carry out repair work.

Elderly people living on their own, including one with a heart condition, have been left without a telephone service since the lines were damaged, making contact with neighbours and relatives difficult.

Repair teams who went to repair the lines earlier this month were told to leave land belonging to one local man because there is no public right of way.

Eircom says its policy is to have lines restored within two days of a fault being reported. The company said it is holding discussions with the landowner and hopes to have the situation resolved soon.

A statement from Eircom given to the Donegal Democrat said: “Eircom’s overhead network was severely damaged by a gorse fire earlier this month. Customers remain without telephone service as we have been unable to carry out repair work to our poles and cables which are located on private land.

“The owner of the land has refused entry to our repair crews. We have had ongoing discussions with the landowner and we are hopeful of a resolution within days.”

Maria Doherty, who lives in London, says she has not been able to speak to her 82-year-old father who lives in the townland of Meenderryhirk since the gorse fires broke out. She said many of the elderly people involved would not have mobile phones.

“I can only imagine what it is like for people not having a telephone. It is an absolute disgrace in this day and age,” she said. “I don’t know what Eircom have told my father as I have not spoken to him but they provide a service and if they have not found a way around providing this service then they are not doing a good job.”