Telecommunications in the south-west have been badly affected by the adverse weather, with many people without a phone service since Storm Darwin, on Feb 12, and others for several weeks prior to that.
There are currently over 3,700 faults in Cork, with the northern and western areas of the county hardest hit; over 2,100 faults across Co Limerick and 1,300 faults in Kerry, including Kenmare, Glencar, Athea, Dromartin Cross, Lixnaw, Ballyheigue, Ardfert, Moyvane, Ballybunion, Ballylongford, Castleisland, Abbeydorney and Knocknagoshel.
An Eircom spokesperson said there is a large number of individual cable and pole replacement jobs in progress, in all three counties, and that could be a lengthy and difficult process. She said repair time could take up to three weeks in cases where significant network repair and /or cable replacement is required.
Radio Kerry was inundated yesterday with irate callers complaining about delays in restoring service.
Eircom corporate affairs director Paul Bradley said at least 10 crews were working in the Kerry area alone. Following unprecedented damage, there was also a real challenge in repairing damage to infrastructure, cables and poles.
More than 80% of faults were repaired within five working days, but it could be a ‘’couple of more weeks’’ before they got to everyone.
Mr Bradley rejected suggestions that Eircom, which let go 830 staff at the end of last year, was short of staff, or resources, to deal with the crisis.
The vast majority of staff who left were desk-based and they had lost less than 100 field technicians, he said.
‘’Changed work practices and the use of contractors have given us the flexibility to respond better,’’ he said.
Mr Bradley said staff had been working all but two days since mid-December and were working to restore services as quickly as possible.
He also thanked customers for their “extraordinary patience’’ in waiting for faults to be repaired.
Kerry Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris said the privatisation of Eircom and the selling off of its infrastructure was a huge mistake .