NORTHERN Ireland Electricity customers in Drumbeg could be seriously compromised because of the actions of a small number of individuals.
Twice in two weeks NIE employees came under threat in the estate. In the first incident an NIE worker was threatened by a man and in the second incident a van belonging to NIE was attacked and abuse hurled at its driver.
The electricity network company said the attack was carried out by three masked men who threatened a worker and smashed his van.
They said that, in total, eight employees have been threatened or attacked and five vehicles damaged in the Craigavon area in the last 12 months.
These latest incidents in Drumbeg have led the company to ‘seriously consider’ its emergency response approach in that area.
NIE said that response time to calls in Drumbeg, including customers reporting power cuts, could be seriously compromised as a direct result of these attacks.
NIE are responsible for repairing power cuts as well as installing and fitting meters, regardless of which electricity supplier energy is purchased from.
Tom Doran, NIE Metering Manager, said, “I was working in Drumbeg myself last week and I am conscious that the vast majority of people appreciate the work that we carry out. However, a small number of individuals are making it impossible for us to do our job.
“We endeavour to respond as quickly as we can to customer calls, but the safety of our employees is paramount.
“In the majority of cases, people understand that the role we play is crucial – both by our fault and emergency engineers who respond to power cuts or by our meter readers and electricians who repair meters and ensure customers receive accurate electricity bills.
“It is a shame that the local community could suffer due to the actions of a few individuals.”
Local councillors condemned the incidents in Drumbeg at the most recent council meeting.
Mayor Alan Carson said he was deeply concerned and feared the attacks could have an effect on NIE response times.
Sinn Fein Councillor Tommy O’Connor told those carrying out the attacks to “catch themselves on”. DUP man Robert Smith said likewise and told the thugs to “let people get on with their work”.
UUP Councillor Kenneth Twyble called for people to support those who provide a service to the community.
In condemning the incidents, the SDLP’s Joe Nelson commented: “It’s abhorrent that people would attack them (NIE workers) in that way.”