Sparks are set to fly between the ESB and the brother of the chairman of the Oireachtas public spending watchdog over a €3,420 bill for a severed power line.
Eugene McGuinness, brother of John McGuinness, Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow-Kilkenny, says he will not pay the “exorbitant” fee charged by the ESB for repairing a power cable he accidentally cut when using a mini-JCB last September. He said he is willing to go to court over the matter.
Mr McGuinness claims he was peeling back the grass with the JCB to make room for decking in his back garden in Kilkenny when he hit the cable, which he says was buried some 20cm below the surface and was not tagged or enclosed in casing.
The ESB subsequently spent two hours fixing the cable — and sent Mr McGuinness a bill for €3,450 to pay for the works.
“I won’t pay. It’s a matter of principle,” said Mr McGuinness, whose story came to light on RTÉ’s Liveline. The tradesman said the cable should have been buried deeper.
“If I was out there with a pick or a shovel, I would be dead,” he said. “They should be thanking me for finding it and appreciate the fact that I am still alive. I won’t be bullied.”
Mr McGuinness said he has been in constant contact with the ESB since the incident and offered to pay up to €250.
A spokesman for the ESB said that the company would not comment on an individual case that is subject to legal action.
“The Health and Safety Authority has published guidelines on homeowners responsibility when carrying out construction work around their home,” said the spokesman. “ESB Networks advertises on both radio and in the newspapers to highlight the dangers of fallen wires and also the importance of identifying any buried cables before carrying out digging work.”
The spokesman said ESB recommends that people research and take precautions before embarking on projects.
“The ‘Dial Before you Dig’ campaign urges construction workers and others carrying out digging to contact ESB networks,” said the spokesman.
“ESB Networks Central Site provides a one stop shop for contractors or individuals who are engaged in excavation work. Prior to commencing work, the public are recommended to contact Central Site in order to locate possible cables in the vicinity of your excavation site.”
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