Sunday 18 March 2018

Hundreds of islanders still without power as bad weather delays delivery of transformer

Inisheer (Inis Oirr), Aran Islands
Inisheer (Inis Oirr), Aran Islands
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Power to the Aran Islands will not be restored until later Monday evening at the earliest, according to an ESB spokesperson.

PR Manager Bernardine Maloney said that, although a generator has been brought out to solve the issue on Inis Oirr and Inis Meáin, a transformer is required to make the generator functional.

"There are no transformers on the island of Ireland so we had to transport one over from the UK," she told RTE's Morning Ireland.

It is planned to ship the transformer - which is to be altered at a facility in Portlaoise - out to the islands later today but sea sailing conditions are not looking favourable.

A fault with an undersea cable resulted in the loss of power to the islands last Friday. Landline phones are also down.

It will take several weeks for the cable to be repaired.

ESB crews were able to restore power to the largest island of Inis Mór but some 372 customers on the other two islands have been left without power for the entire weekend.

Island residents have voiced their concern about contacting the mainland or emergency services should they need to before power is restored.

When asked why there wasn't a generator and transformer in place on the islands for instances such as this, Ms Maloney said that they are not owned by ESB and are hired out.

"The cable that's there at the moment has been in for 20 years and there has never been a problem," she said.

"[The generator and transformer] wouldn't operate very well if you weren't going to use them on a regular basis."

Island residents have been advised to contact their doctor if they have medical devices that need power.

Dr Mirko Jukic is the only GP servicing patients on both islands.

Since last Friday, he has had to rely on the cooperation of local hotels and pubs to store medication and vaccines in their fridges. 

“Because the fridge is not functioning I am obliged to take the drugs to places like hotels or pubs that have a generator to store them there,” Dr. Jukic told Keelin Shanley on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning.

“I have to run up and down to get the drugs to give them as needed; for example in case of a tetanus vaccination or insulin,” he explained.

Dr. Jukic also said that it is impossible for him to treat patients in an emergency situation at night due to the powercut, and that he has no access to patient files on his computer.

Eoghan Póil runs a fudge business on Inis Oirr and believes he's luckier than most business owners on the island.

"Our finished product needs to be stored at room temperature. I have been able to trade over the weekend so I'm far more fortunate.

"But It's not an endless amount of stock I carry so I'm going to have a problem pretty soon."

Póil also sells coffees and teas which naturally requires electricity - so this is a service he can no longer provide to his customers.

His family have acquired access to a generator from the mainland and they are "we are splitting it between three houses".

"The nature of island life is that we carry a lot of stuff in the freezers," he said. 

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