Wednesday 23 May 2018

Varadkar wades in to see 'with own eyes' the damage

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar traverses a ditch in Drumlargan
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar traverses a ditch in Drumlargan
Leo Varadkar with officials from ESB Networks

Alan O'Keeffe

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar waded through the mud of a Co Meath field to thank ESB Networks crews for restoring electricity to blacked-out communities.

In a pair of black Wellingtons and a helmet, the Taoiseach watched as work crews lifted fallen power lines from a sodden field in the town of Drumlargan, near Kilcock.

Speaking to reporters at a muddy gateway, he paid tribute to the huge nationwide repair operation under way in the wake of Ophelia.

"I wanted to see with my own eyes the scale of the damage and witness the phenomenal work that is being done by ESB staff, staff of local authorities, Defence Forces, and others," he said.

"More than half of people who lost power have had their power restored. The vast majority of people will have power restored in the next three to four days."

He said it was possible some people might remain without power for up to eight days.

He was briefed at the scene by Pat O'Doherty, chief executive of the electricity company, and John McManus, regional operations manager.

He was asked whether there should be a new criminal offence covering people who defy public warnings and conduct dangerous activities near or on water at a time of weather alerts.

"I think it is something that merits consideration, but I'd never rush into creating a new crime," he said.

Regarding the repairs, he said some 400,000 homes lost power supplies and more than half of those were restored. Ireland did not suffer sufficiently to qualify for special EU funds for repairs.

Irish Independent

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