Anger in Port over five night blackout

Half of Portarlington was left in darkness for five nights last week, causing local anger and a fear of crime and public safety on the street.

Half of Portarlington was left in darkness for five nights last week, causing local anger and a fear of crime and public safety on the street.

An estimated 60 streetlights went out last Friday January 23, plunging upper Main Street, Foxcroft Street, Crowe Lane , Station Road and Link road into darkness.

Cllr Aidan Mullins said it caused “big concern”.

“People were angry. I got a lot of calls from people asking what the hell was going on. It was a safety issue and there were concerns for security. I live on Foxcroft street and you couldn’t see the hand in front of your face. Anyone who wasn’t fit and healthy couldn’t risk walking out. There were a lot of elderly people in maisonettes affected,” he said.

The problem was fixed by ESB Networks on Wednesday.

The five day delay was caused by “a communication problem” Cllr Mullins claimed, between Laois County Council, the ESB, and the company contracted to maintain public lighting, Killaree Lighting Service (KLS).

However both KLS and the council say nobody complained to them until Monday morning, despite there being a mobile number and email address on the council’s website.

KLS Contracts Manager Jason Horan said they heard through locals.

“The first we knew about it was calls on Monday morning, followed by an email from the council. I went out that evening at 5pm to figure out what was wrong, but I couldn’t find it, it was too dark. I went back the following morning, and found what was an ESB fault, which we are not certified to fix. I then rang the ESB and they were out on Wednesday morning,” he said, noting that locals were concerned.

“A lot of people were afraid, we tried to fix it as best we could. When it is an ESB fault, we locate it, inform them and they fix it. It was found Monday and fixed on Wednesday, in other places it has gone on a lot longer than this,” he said.

The council also first heard of the blackout on Monday morning, and contacted KLS.

“Public Lighting section do understand that it took more time to fix these lights than normally lights are fixed in Laois. The fault was beyond the scope of works of Public Lighting maintenance contractor. It was on ESB Networks controlled equipment on ESB poles. ESB Networks retains operational control for the switch-wire system on ESB Poles,” a spokesperson said.

To report any public light out of order ring 087 6287792 or 057 8664167 or email: laoispl@gmail.com or report it through www.fixyourstreet.ie. Include thelocation and the number on the pole.