There is widespread anger and frustration across South Kerry, where up to 40 homes and businesses have found themselves cut off from broadband access – and they’ll remain without connection until at least January 3.
any residents in the rural community of Ballinskellgs and The Glen work from home, some for international and national companies, and have been forced to travel or find alternative solutions to continue to do their jobs. Some have even sat in their cars, floundering for any internet access possible.
Local companies – including Skellig Chocolates and the vital remote working hub Gteic@Baile an Sceilg – have been effected at a time when it was never more needed as Christmas approaches. Local coffee shop Driftwood was unable to open as planned due to the broadband issues which they said was extremely frustrating.
The issue first arose in early December, and it is believed it may have been caused by a lightning strike, but despite repeated calls to Eir – who are primarily responsible for the communications infrastructure – the problem has not been fixed. The majority of affected customers are Eir customers, but customers of other companies have also been affected.
Local schools are also without internet. In Scoil Mhichil in Ballinskelligs, the secretary must drive home to carry out certain duties, including organising payroll for teachers and contacting parents.
Such is the mounting anger and frustration that residents are pleading with government ministers to try and resolve the issue. Families are also unable to contact loved ones around the world for Christmas without this internet access.
“They are stealing Christmas,” said Victor Bayda, who has contacted several government ministers and is pleading for assistance for the community.
Victor is Oifigeach Pleanála Teanga (Language Planning Officer) for Uíbh Ráthach and is extremely frustrated that the community broadband problem persists.
His wife, Kira, works from home for an international company but has faced extreme difficulties in recent weeks by trying to work without proper broadband. Luckily, she has been able to work in her husband’s office.
“We are both dependant on broadband. My wife has been on the phone every day to Eir, and they keep trying to say there is no problem. Now they are saying January 3 before it will be fixed.
“They say there is no problem, then they tell you to get a new modem, which we did, and the problem remains. Then they said they would send a technician and they didn’t arrive. They cancelled the technician. What kind of service is this?,” he said.
“It is very frustrating and unacceptable. People are trying to order gifts online and they want to call their families all over the world.
“They [Eir] don’t seem to care at all,” he feels.
Over at the local school, secretary Evelyn Goggin said the situation is ‘crazy’. While the school are not customers of Eir, they have not avoided the issue.
“I can go to work, but if I want to get anything done online, I have to come home. It just isn’t viable, we can’t operate online. If I want to use our system to contact parents I have to leave the school. It is frustrating,” she said.
“Enough is enough, it is coming up to Christmas, and we need internet.”
Cllr Norma Moriarty (Fianna Fáil), who has been contacting Eir persistently over the past three weeks, said it is beyond frustrating, and she feels the community is being ignored.
“Eir don’t seem to care at all,” she feels.
“They said to replace the modems, which people did, but the problem remains. It is affecting companies, the schools and private houses. There is a complete lack of respect for customers, and now they [Eir] are saying they will send out a crew in January. This is not good enough.”
She said people now have a right to work from home, but this is being denied to those in Ballinskelligs due to being left adrift of vital broadband access.
Cllr Moriarty added that such actions go against Government plans to invest in rural communities and are putting such plans in jeopardy.
The Kerryman approached Eir for comment. Eir, in response, sought the phone numbers and or account details of affected customers.