We did not endure this great inconvenience last Christmas, when Bord Gais was entirely national, and, though many of us were in arrears, in these times of serious financial pressure, we were making regular payments, and all was going smoothly.
Enter the British consortium to which that part of Bord Gais was sold.
On taking over, last January, they issued demands for full payment of arrears, within seven days.
My own arrears were €800, down from €1,100.
Since I live on a social welfare payment, I could not hope to meet this demand.
It is almost certain that the elderly, and disabled, were among those who received these letters.
Those new customers of Bord Gais Energy who could not meet the company’s terms were told they would have to sign up to a pay-as-you-go service.
That particular idea, of course, involves not only higher prices (since there is a premium charge for top-ups), but inferior service.
It might also involve anxiety attacks, falls, and broken limbs, for the elderly, when credit runs out, and they can’t cope.
I refused to go along with this disgrace, and began a long-running battle with the company, which culminated in my electricity being cut off, last October, but, worryingly, without due diligence as to medical need, such as the use of a nebuliser, for example.
I believe electricity to be a potentially life-saving commodity, which should never be in the hands of profit-seekers, such as the British consortium, who will, almost certainly, act irresponsibly, as has been the case.
My home is in darkness, at night, but for candles, and I might easily have fallen on the stairs, and broken my neck.
The Government should never have agreed to the sale of that part of Bord Gais.
The very fine Congress document, on the disaster that was the Telecom Eireann privatisation, was a stark warning against any such future action.
It may be the case, though, that a gun was held to the head of our government.
My arrears, incidentally, now stand at €1,400.