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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 6 Feb 1975

Vol. 277 No. 12

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Telephone Service.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs the number of applicants awaiting telephone service from the exchange in Swords, Malahide, Skerries and the Balbriggan area, Dublin.

About 540, 980, 200 and 80 respectively.

Surely the Minister will agree that these are appallingly high figures for requests for connection of telephones in any area? The Minister stated that the figures were as follows : 540 for Swords, 980 for Malahide, 200 for Skerries and 80 for Balbriggan.

A question, please, Deputy.

Has the Minister any plans to improve this situation?

I think the Deputy is right to feel concerned about this. I feel concerned about it, too. There have been slippages in fulfilling contracts here. The 1,000 line extension of Swords exchange, which was previously forecast for the first quarter of 1975, is now expected at the end of the second quarter of 1975. I am concerned about these slippages which are regarded in a grave light in my Department and are being specially investigated. Some 230 applications, mostly in the Malahide area, will be attended to within the next three months or so. About 70 in Swords will be cleared in the summer and clearance of the balance in Malahide and Swords is expected in the first half of next year. The waiting applications in the Balbriggan and Skerries areas are unlikely to be cleared until the first half of the following year.

Would the Minister not consider further installation of the mobile exchanges, one of which he has started in operation in the Malahide area?

The Deputy is raising another matter.

I will give consideration to the Deputy's suggestion and I will communicate with him.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs the number of applicants on the waiting list for telephones in the Leixlip area, County Kildare; and when he will be in a position to provide a telephone service for these applicants.

There are about 340 waiting applicants in the Leixlip area. Service will be provided for about 140 of these within the next three months. It is hoped that service will be given to a further 130 before September next. The remainder will be attended to after an extension of Lucan exchange, expected in late 1976, has been completed.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs the number of applicants awaiting telephone installation in the State at present; the number in County Laois; and the number in County Offaly.

The numbers of applications on hand are as follows: (a) 41,000; (b) 220; (c) 230.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs why a person (name supplied) in County Galway who applied for a telephone in January, 1972, has not yet received it.

Because of the abnormal construction work required to provide this telephone and of the heavy arrears of other work, it has been necessary to defer attention to the application in question, which was made in August, 1972, until the arrears position eases. It is hoped to provide service by the end of the year.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will arrange for direct dialling facilities at Limerick in respect of the exchange at Scarriff, County Clare, while the installation of direct dialling facilities is awaited there.

It is not proposed to provide the facilities sought. Calls from Limerick to Scarriff are trunk calls and if the facilities were introduced they would result in the transfer of the work of recording and timing of these calls from the Departmentally staffed exchange at Limerick to the sub-office exchange at Scarriff. This additional work plus the growing volume of normal operating work could not be catered for satisfactorily at Scarriff exchange. In general, it is considered desirable to concentrate this kind of operating work in Departmentally staffed exchanges which are better equipped to deal with it.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs why a person (name supplied) in County Meath did not receive a detailed statement of his telephone calls with his last telephone account; and if, in view of the fact that a large number of calls are being credited to his account which should be credited to another account, he will supply this person with a detailed statement of all calls which are supposed to have been made from his telephone over the past two years and if he will have an officer from his Department discuss the case with this subscriber to find a solution.

The last telephone account rendered to the subscriber in question comprised rental for October-December, 1974, charges for calls made in the period July-September, and arrears from previous accounts. The charges for calls related only to dialled calls made during the period July-September. There was no record that any operator-controlled trunk calls were made in July-September period and, consequently, no statement of trunk calls was enclosed with the account.

The subscriber contended that a number of operator-controlled trunk calls debited to his accounts between 1971 and June, 1973 had not been made from his telephone and appropriate rebate in respect of the charges for those calls was allowed. The subscriber's number was changed on 2nd January, 1974 and no trunk call has been incorrectly debited to him since that date.

All available details of the charges for operator-controlled trunk calls debited to his account over the past two years will be supplied shortly to the subscriber and if necessary a discussion will be arranged with him.

Does the Minister not think that an account of £91.96 for dial calls which this man received in his last account is excessive?

I would hesitate to utter an opinion on an individual case of this kind here. The best solution is for the subscriber, if he has still trouble about this matter, to discuss it with an official of my Department after he has received details of the charges.

When he gets all those details, will an officer of the Minister's Department call on him or has he to go into the post office and discuss it with an official there?

I will arrange for an officer of my Department to call on him.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will arrange for the erection of a telephone kiosk in the village of Dooagh, Achill, County Mayo.

The use made of the call office telephone in the sub-post office at Dooagh is not sufficient to warrant provision of a kiosk there at present. A silencing booth, which is being provided, may, however, lead to increased use of the call office telephone, and the position will be kept under close review.

Would the Minister agree that a business premises, where no acoustic facilities or no cover of any type is provided, is a suitable arrangement for a person wishing to make a telephone call. Would he agree that this militates against the use of the telephone which is provided in the post office at Dooagh?

The Deputy has made this point before. I appreciate the point he makes but, of course, there is no way of establishing that the low revenue here—it is a low revenue, £31 for the year ended 31st December—is due to the lack of silencing facilities. We are in any case providing silencing facilities now. This may lead, if the Deputy is right, to an expansion in traffic. If it does, there might then be a case for a kiosk. The situation will be kept under review.

The Minister stated in his reply that the criteria are not satisfied. There are approximately 170 houses in this village which has been described on occasions as the largest village in Europe. Would the Minister agree that it is necessary to have a public telephone or kiosk provided?

There is a call office telephone at Dooagh post office. Of course, there are a number of private telephones in the area—25. I will keep the matter under review but I am not satisfied that Dooagh on the present showing is entitled to priority over the many other areas which are in a similar position.

Question No. 8.


We must make some progress. I would advise Deputies that there are over 200 questions on the Order Paper and I seek their co-operation in trying to ensure that as many Deputies' questions as possible are answered. The Deputy is raising a very large issue now.

The criteria are somewhat different in relation to the provision of an extra kiosk in an area and a first kiosk. If the Deputy would care to put down a specific question I shall get the information for him.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs when the exchange at Shillelagh, County Wicklow, will be converted to automatic working.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs when the exchange at Carnew, County Wicklow, will be converted to automatic working.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 9 together. It is hoped to convert the two exchanges to automatic working in about two and a half years.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will state when the new equipment for Tullamore telephone exchange, County Offaly, will be installed, in view of the fact that there are more than 100 applicants awaiting telephone connection in that town.

The new equipment on order is expected on the basis of information from the contractors to be brought into service as follows:

Early 1976: Some 200 extra lines to be provided from a mobile exchange.

Mid-1977: 1,000 line installation. The mobile exchange will then be withdrawn.

Is the Minister aware there are over 100 applicants awaiting the installation of telephones for some time and some of these are business people and builders? The situation generally in the town is unsatisfactory and, if I understand the Minister's reply correctly, it will be a year before this equipment is installed. Is that not a rather long delay? Who has fallen down in the matter?

I agree with the Deputy the situation is unsatisfactory as, of course, was the situation for applicants who were without telephones for a great many years in many parts. We are now making an effort to catch up. The auxiliary exchange in this area, equipped for 1,000 additional subscriber lines, is on order. The slippages compared with the previous estimate given to the Deputy in April last is due to discussions with the contractor regarding technical design. The existing exchange building in Tullamore is full and the Office of Public Works expect to provide additional accommodation for the extra 1,000 lines equipment by the end of the year. Because of the large number of waiting applicants and the long period before relief can be given in the normal way it is proposed to use a mobile exchange, to be delivered later this year, to provide for some 200 private lines as an interim measure. The precise number will depend on the amount of call traffic generated. A mobile exchange does not require a building. It is contained in a weatherproof structure which requires only a suitably prepared site. Allowing for priority needs until the 1,000 line auxiliary exchange is ready it is unlikely that the 200 lines will be sufficient to enable more than the 36 applications made in 1973 and some of the 1974 applications to be cleared immediately. By "early 1976" I mean within the first three months.


asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will give the approximate date of the opening of the telephone contracts section in Waterford.

About September next.