Repair crews restoring services after 140kph gales hit
ABOUT 15,000 homes were hit today by power cuts after severe storm-force winds swept across Ireland.
But repair crews are busy trying to restore services.
ESB Networks said it hopes to have power restored by late this evening to some of the 7,000 households and businesses still without electricity following the winds.
In addition, Eircom is dealing with almost 5,000 reported faults and repair crews are working to restore telephone services.
The worst-affected regions were the north and north-west with about 9,000 blackouts in Donegal and Sligo.
Met Eireann said northern counties were hit by damaging gusts of between 100kph (62mph) and 140kph (87mph).
Winds have been strongest in Connacht and Ulster, where they will occasionally reach violent storm force 11 between Bloody Foreland and Fair Head.
They are expected to moderate as the day goes on.
Gardai issued a traffic alert to exercise extreme caution in the face of storm-force winds and heavy rain today.
They warned that driving conditions will be difficult across the country and urged motorists to cut speed, be aware of hazards such as fallen trees, branches and other debris, particularly on minor roads.
Drivers have also been asked to turn their vehicles' lights on.
Noel Brett, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), also advised motorists to take care on the roads following the New Year break.
"Roads will be busy today with people getting back to work or travelling to airports and ports after the bank holiday weekend and festive season," he said.
"I would ask each and every one of you to allow extra time to reach your destination, keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front and adjust your speed in windy or wet conditions."
Gales of over 100kph have left 10,000 properties in Northern Ireland without electricity.
Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) said fallen trees and severe winds had damaged power lines, causing hundreds of faults.
The power company said repair teams had restored power to thousands of customers throughout the morning.
It said coastal areas were worst-affected.
It added: "NIE engineers are currently assessing the extent of the damage to the electricity network, preparing a restoration plan and moving staff and equipment to where they are most needed.
"This process will take several hours to complete. There are almost 500 individual faults on the network."