War of words over power cut

Residents and shop-keepers of the lower Glen Road were kept in the dark for a period of 40 hours after NIE's latest blunder left them with unexplained and sporadic black-outs.
The power initially went off on Sunday evening and did not resume for any substantial period of time over the next day and a half – leaving residents in the dark. Local house owner, Alison Ferrin, was angered by the power cut, and by NIE’s response.
“My father is disabled and one of my four children is also disabled. I have to get everyone into the car to go out now and buy dinner because there is no electricity so I can't cook,” she said. “It's been like this since yesterday [Sunday] and NIE still haven't been able to rectify the problem. I don't think they know what they're doing because the power is just going on and off all day.”
Alison had to shout to be heard over the din of her burglar alarm – its stand-by battery system had been set off by the power cut. She said other homes in the vicinity had been affected as a result of the power cut.
“How are the children supposed to do their homework with no light? How are we supposed to shower and eat or do the washing?”
A spokesman for NIE told the Andersonstown News on Tuesday: “The power hasn't been off for any considerable length of time. There was a flickering supply due to a cable fault, the fault has since been located and repairs are underway.”
Alison's husband Jim rejected this claim out of hand.
“Our power was out from last night until 10am this morning non-stop. Is that not a considerable length of time? Our children couldn’t get washed or have a decent breakfast. We had to make alternative arrangements for our son, who requires an oxygen machine. We had to throw out the food in our fridge. Gransha shops couldn't do any business last night – tell them it wasn't a considerable length of time,” he said.
Briege Marley of the Divis Home Bakery at Gransha shops told the Andersonstown News that the power cut had hit her business hard.
“We couldn't get anything done today. There was no stew, no soup, no tea, no coffee, no sausage rolls. We have lost a lot of trade.”
Gerry McElroy is proprietor of It’s Just Handy at Gransha.
“This is about the fourth time this has happened in six weeks and what's really annoying is that the electric comes on for about two minutes and then it goes again. It’s been like that all day. Naturally, people just assume we are closed as the lights are off and we’ve had to close the door to keep the cold out,” he said.
Mr McElroys co-worker, Ciara McKay, told the Andersonstown News: “Nobody contacted us. We rang NIE and to be honest they weren’t very helpful. It is very cold in here but there is also a safety issue. We can't really have people walking around the shop in the dark.”
Lindsay McCausland, an employee at Wine Flair, said she was left “totally stranded”.
“Our telephone is linked to the fax machine so I don’t even have access to a phone line. The electric has gone on and off about eight times today already. We had to wait outside this morning for a brief time before we could get in as the shutters are run by electricity and couldn't be opened.
“It's absolutely freezing in here, only the beers are getting warm as the fridges are out too!”
Repairs got under way at around 11am on Tuesday morning following 40 hours of intermittent power failure.
Alison Ferrin was doing all she could just in case.
“I've just turned the heat on, put the dinner in the oven and put a wash on.
“Hopefully the power will last long enough to get these things done at least,” she said.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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