Sinn Féin spokesperson on communications and broadband, Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú, has asked communities in Louth to be vigilant after eir revealed that between 12 and 13 kms of telecommunications cables and copper wire have been stolen over the last six months.
The telecoms company said almost 1,000 people living in rural locations in Louth and South Monaghan have been affected by the thefts by losing phone lines, broadband and connected services such as emergency medical alert systems.
The Dundalk TD said: ‘I have been speaking to representatives of eir last week who have briefed me about the thefts which have been ongoing for the last six months and which has resulted in 65 to 70 sections being affected.
‘I would ask communities in Louth to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to Gardaí.
‘I understand that Gardaí are working extremely hard in order to catch the perpetrators, who are working during the hours of darkness.
‘If people see someone supposedly working at a communications pole at night, they should get in touch with Gardaí immediately’.
Deputy Ó Murchú said there was also the wider issue of the thieves being able to sell on the cabling.
He said: ‘Those who are carrying out these audacious thefts are only interested in one thing – money. It is clear that they feel comfortable selling the cabling onto a third party and this needs to be looked at urgently.
‘Without the ‘profit’ for the thieves, there is no point in them doing what they are doing.
‘I have spoken a number of times in the Transport and Communications Committee about communications infrastructure and that extends past cybersecurity into the safety of the actual infrastructure.
‘I intend to write to the chairperson of the committee about the issue of cable theft and the wider issue of critical communications infrastructure and see if it, and the wider implications, can be discussed at the committee in the near future’.
STATEMENT FROM EIR
Theft of telecommunications cables in East Louth and South Monaghan impacting local communities
Wednesday, January 5th 2022: Telecommunications networks provider eir today issued a statement to inform the public that the ongoing theft of telecommunications cabling is having a detrimental impact on people, homes and communities in the East Louth and South Monaghan areas.
Almost 1,000 people, living in rural locations, have been impacted in the last six months by a spate of thefts. Criminals have stolen more than 12 kilometres of telecommunications cables and copper wires. The thefts have resulted in local residents losing not only their telephone lines and broadband, but connected services including emergency medical alert systems.
Una Stafford, Managing Director, open eir: “We are asking the public in the Louth and Monaghan areas to be vigilant as the destructive nature of these crimes can have far reaching consequences.
We need our telecommunications infrastructure to stay connected and this is even more important for those people living in rural locations, for older people and for people who are medically vulnerable. Particularly now, when we are still living with Covid-19 health and safety restrictions. The open eir team does not work under the hours of darkness, unless there is an emergency. If you see anything suspicious, such as workers cutting cables during the hours of darkness, please do not approach but contact your local Garda station.”