Work was continuing last night to restore power to the two smaller Aran Islands off the Co Galway coast following the weekend’s major disruption to the supply.
Islanders and tourists on Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr have been coping without power since early on Friday morning. Two generators imported from the UK are being installed to restore the power until repairs can be carried out to a deep-sea cable which has been damaged.
The power has been off on the two islands since 4.30am on Friday, causing great inconvenience to the 400 people who live on the islands, as well as the large number of visitors at this time of year.
Communications minister Denis Naughten said the cut to the supply needed to be investigated and assurances needed to be given to islanders it wouldn’t happen again.
“We need to see why it happened first of all, what are the chances of something like this happening again and how it can be dealt with,” said Mr Naughten.
The problem with the cable is in deep water about 2km from Inis Mór. The ESB said that solving it is a major undertaking. A specialist ‘diving pod’, developed by ESB International, is being transported to the islands and will facilitate underwater repair works which will take about a fortnight.
The contents of deep freezes have had to be consumed or dumped over the past few days, while businesses have suffered at the height of the tourism season.
Tarlach de Blacam, who runs the knitwear firm Cniotail Inis Meáin, said emergency power is needed at this time of year to cater for disruptions.
“It is a very serious problem for businesses operating in Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr,” he said. “Small businesses, guesthouses, hotels, pubs and restaurants have had no power since early on Friday morning.”
Mirko Jukic, the only GP on both islands, said he was depending on 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 RTÉ Radio 1.
He said it is impossible for him to treat patients in an emergency situation at night due to the power cut, and that he has no access to patient files on his computer.
Meanwhile, Irish Water is urging residents of the islands to continue to conserve water during the electricity disruption. The outage caused a temporary shutdown of the water treatment plant, with crews manually filling the reservoir until full power supply is restored.
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