Republican News · Thursday 21 December 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Warning against `decommissioning' of rural phone boxes

Clonakilty Sinn Féin councillor Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin has warned communities in small villages to be vigilant against what he has described as the ``decommissioning'' of public telephone kiosks in rural areas.

He has recently discovered that Éircom has initiated the removal of hundreds of phone boxes from rural Ireland, purely on the basis of economics, with no concern whatsoever for the social impact this will have for people living in these communities.

He is reliably informed that it is now official Éircom policy to remove any public phone that is not generating a minimum of 2,000/annum. Already this has begun in his own area, with a kiosk removed at Bealad outside of the local National School and Church. Nearby Reenascreena is also for the guillotine. Even more alarming is that the phone box at Ballinascarthy, on the N71 road between Bandon and Clonakilty is also on the list. The irony of this is that only a few months ago, a monument was unveiled directly across the road to one of the world's greatest entrepeuners ever - Henry Ford.

Ó Súilleabháin cautioned- ``I would urge communities in rural areas to be vigilant on this issue. By law, Éircom has to put a 60-day notice up on the inside of any phone box due to be removed. This scandalous policy is another indication of the contempt that the overpaid executives in Éircom's ivory towers have for their customers and shareholders. This telecommunication rape of rural areas has already begun, with no consideration for the social impact on the people that live there. It's another example of a profit-driven policy with no regard for who it will affect.

``Very often, a phonebox at the crossroads is the only means of communication for many people in rural areas. They are an important part of the infrastructure for locals, but also for tourists visiting such areas.''

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