Dad chains himself up at ESB
AN unemployed man chained himself to railings at ESB headquarters yesterday in protest at threats to cut off his electricity as his daughter collected her Leaving Certificate results.
Seamus Sherlock travelled from Limerick to Dublin over the ESB's refusal to accept his attempts to pay €50 a week off outstanding bills.
The separated father of five had been left a bill of €2,261 when he took over the household in June.
He borrowed more than €1,100 from family and friends to pay off half the debt in a lump sum and then offered to use €50 a week from his €196 social welfare to cover the rest of the bill.
However, the ESB initially refused to accept his payment plan and then threatened to cut him off on Monday. It even charged Mr Sherlock another €97 for the warning.
"They told me they would take the rest in instalments but they wanted €150 every week. I get €196 a week," he said.
Mr Sherlock, from Newcastle-West, said the ESB had given him a three-week breathing space before finalising a new payment scheme.
"I just want the people of Ireland to know what is going on with ESB," he said after unlocking the chains and meeting with the company's management.
He continued: "I went in to ask them to stop disconnecting people who are genuinely trying to pay bills."
Mr Sherlock, who shares custody of his children, said he was confident of his daughter Bernadette's exam success.
"She told me to go ahead and do what I have to do for Ireland. I'm anxious but I'm not worried, she's a bright girl," he said.
The ESB confirmed this week it cuts off 900 homes a month.
Bord Gais said it also cuts off gas supplies to 230 homes a month and 120 from its electricity service.
The ESB last night insisted that disconnection occurs only when all other avenues have been exhausted and that 99.9pc of those who are disconnected are subsequently reconnected within 24 hours. The company also said that in the relatively few cases of disconnection, ESB customer supply and all electricity suppliers incur a fixed charge associated with visits to the customer's residence.