Turning out the lights on Irish consumers

On Sept 1, a faceless EU directive finally pulled the switch on the old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs.

It could be worse. Too many Irish people have no electricity. They are truly the poorest of the “new poor”.

The website of the Commission for Energy Regulation contains some alarming data that should rouse our nation’s social conscience. The number of electricity disconnections throughout 2011 was 63% more than the number for the year 2007.

By the end of 2011, disconnections were averaging 70 per working day. That stirs the folk memory of absentee landlords, backed by armed militia and the RIC, evicting defenceless tenant farmers during the Land War over 130 years ago.

In the five years from Jan 2007 to Dec 2011, over 66,000 meters were disconnected. The Census for 2011 put the average number of people per household at 2.7. That indicates that nearly 180,000 people (or the size of the population of an average Irish county) were without one of the basics of a modern civilised society.

Is it right that 4% of the population of the country should face the chilling, painful cold of another harsh winter and yet another unhappy Christmas? At the current rate, we will all be disconnected in 25 years’ time. Would the last person to leave the country then please switch out the lights?

What will it take to make the Government see the light?

Michael Mernagh


Co Cork

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