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Dublin: 15 °C Friday 10 July, 2020

Cork island left without phone and broadband for six months after Storm Ophelia

Work is scheduled to repair cables this week.

Work to repair the submarine cable is scheduled for this week.
Work to repair the submarine cable is scheduled for this week.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

SIX MONTHS AFTER Storm Ophelia ravaged Ireland, work will take place this week to finally restore phone and broadband services to an island off the Cork Coast.

Sherkin Island, a five-kilometre long stretch of land of the southwest coast of Co Cork, is home to approximately 100 people. The island’s elderly population is particularly concerned about the panic button and panic alarm systems, which rely on a landline to work, independent West Cork TD Michael Collins said.

Work to repair the submarine cable that brings power to the island is planned for this week, Eir told

Plans to repair the cable tomorrow were cancelled due to the weather conditions, as were plans to repair the cable in January.

Both the submarine cable and the power lines on the island were damaged by the storm.

Speaking to Patricia Messinger on C103’s Cork Today Show, Collins said that the situation was “unfair” for residents.

It’s so so unfair, and it’s so hurtful

Many residents raised the issue of the panic button to him when he visited the island, Collins said. “It means so much to them.” He said that residents are particularly reliant on landlines as there is often poor mobile phone reception on the island.

Hitting the country in October 2016, Storm Ophelia was the worst storm to affect Ireland in 50 years. Three people were killed and more than 360,000 customers were left without power as 190-kilometre-per-hour winds crossed the country.

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“We all know that when Storm Ophelia struck there was unprecedented damage done to electric lines in some places and to telephone lines,” Collins said. “Understandably, these took a good few weeks to put back into place and the workers were working nearly around the clock in most places.”

When I find out six months on that they still don’t have a landline service on that island, there is something seriously going amiss here

Collins promised to raise the issue in the Dáil, claiming residents and businesses on the island “were just totally and utterly left there.”

Sherkin Island is close to the mainland, just ten minutes by ferry from the small fishing port of Baltimore, Co Cork. It is one of the seven inhabited islands on West Cork’s coastline, and hosts artists studios, a castle and a friary that dates to 1460.

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