Many Laois council tenants are facing into Christmas with no working heating in their homes.
A shortage of available contractors has been blamed by the council for a delay in fixing heating for its tenants, some of whom are waiting for the past two months.
One such elderly couple are Brigid and Michael Farrell from Pattison's Estate in Mountmellick.
Paying tenants for the past 44 years, they rely on a solid fuel cooker to heat their two storey home and to cook food, but the chimney was out of order for most of this year.
It was repaired by a council contractor last May after a seven week wait, but five weeks ago a council inspection found it was dripping tar that was giving off potentially lethal carbon monoxide fumes.
It was so dangerous that the fire service was called to instantly put out their fire.
Since then the couple are waiting for a repair as the weather gets colder.
Their only source of heat is a small open fire in the sitting room, and an electric heater the council gave them in their kitchen. A small gas hob is their only way to cook.
Both have health issues.
“I suffer from depression. Last night I was crying with the cold. I wore a t-shirt and jumper and socks but I still couldn't sleep with the cold,” Brigid told the Leinster Express.
“I woke up at two and had to go down to make tea just try and warm myself up. It's not fair to leave us with Christmas on the way,” she said.
Their son Darren is calling on the council to act quickly.
“It was -2 last night. They are going to bed cold. The council did a botched job,”he said.
Three councillors raised concerns about tenants waiting to have heating fixed at the November Laois County Council meeting.
“I have never got as many enquiries about heating. The council was out giving them electric heaters. People are waiting for chimneys to be repaired up to eight weeks,” said Cllr John Joe Fennelly.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley agreed.
“My information is a contractor is sick. If this could be addressed straight away with the cold weather,” she said.
Cllr Paddy Bracken also asked for faster repairs.
“There are undue delays. One thing people need is basic heating. They shouldn't have to wait weeks,” he said.
Housing director Michael Rainey explained.
“One of our contractors who has a large body of work is unavailable. We are looking for other contractors. Our own maintenance are already committed but we are trying to redistribute that work. We have only one chimney contractor so we are bound by his capacity. There is a shortage of contractors for repairs in the county, mainly for chimneys,” he said.