I am thankful for the opportunity to raise this matter. I do not think there is a Deputy, Senator or councillor who does not know what prompted me to table it for debate. I do not know of a measure to gauge the frustration and anger that exist but I suggest that both are off the scale. The number of people who have contacted public representatives, providers, particularly Eir, and the Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg, is unprecedented. I appreciate the challenges of Covid-19 but the customer service and the type of response being provided to people are completely inexcusable.
The level of frustration expressed by members of the transport and communications committee earlier on when we had the CEO from Eir before us reflected the wider frustration and anger among the population and the users of those services in particular. The meeting could have gone on all day such was the level of engagement and the number of concerns that people had to raise. As I said, I appreciate that Covid is a particular challenge but I do not accept that as an excuse from Eir or any other provider because some of these issues have been around since long before Covid-19. Eir came before the committee today and apologised for the service and promised a better future, but we have been listening to those promises for a long time and I, for one, am not confident that they will be realised. Consequently, people are caught in a catch-22 situation; they feel that they have nowhere to turn and that they are not getting a response. Many people will have seen the RTÉ "Prime Time" programme last night. It was proof positive that some of the claims being made by these companies are not actually being realised in practical terms. The average waiting times are one such example. I would be interested to hear what the median is because very many people are waiting far in excess of ten minutes and often up to 40 minutes. I have seen Facebook and other social media posts about people waiting on the line for in excess of two hours. At the root of this is a lack of accountability, an impotence, if you like, on behalf of the regulator and it is this House that legislates for the regulator. We should not have privatised these industries; that is part of the problem here and we are paying the price for it. Huge damage has been done to the public's confidence in this sector and a lot of work must be done to address it.
I am glad the Minister is here. I want to know what he has done to engage with the sector to address this issue and to improve it in the time ahead.