asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if consideration has been given to the restoration of the North-South electricity interconnection in the context of North-South economic co-operation.
Written Answers. - North-South Electricity Interconnection.
Given the vital importance of energy, the question of the restoration of the North-South electricity interconnector has been frequently discussed in the context of the North-South discussions which take place on economic co-operation. Despite several attempts at its restoration the interconnector has now been out of commission since 1975 when it was maliciously damaged by an explosion. Those who are responsible for this action should know that the interconnector is of significant mutual benefit North and South. Putting it out of commission results in a serious loss to the electricity utilities North and South by denying them increased efficiency and greater capability in ensuring continuity in supply.
In view of the continuing and growing importance of the interconnector for both here and Northern Ireland steps had been put in hands in the last few months to restore the link. I have been dismayed to learn that recently electricity workers involved in the restoration of the interconnector on the northern side of the Border have been subjected to intimidation and it has been suggested that if they continued with the work their lives would be in peril. I understand that the workforce on the ground were physically threatened by the IRA on 23 March 1980 and Deputies will be aware of further references by spokesmen for the IRA over the Easter weekend to their determination to stop the electricity board in Northern Ireland from restoring the interconnector. I condemn this intimidation and I hope it will not jeopardise the installation of the interconnector which is of significant mutual benefit North and South and which the authorities in both Dublin and Belfast have agreed should be restored at the earliest possible opportunity, and maintained thereafter.