Locating call centres in Sligo 'probably a mistake' - Eir CEO

The CEO of the telecommunications firm Eir has said comments she made about Sligo had 'nothing to...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.39 25 Nov 2020

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Locating call centres in Sligo 'probably a mistake' - Eir CEO

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.39 25 Nov 2020

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The CEO of the telecommunications firm Eir has said comments she made about Sligo had 'nothing to do with staff'.

It comes after a Government minister called on Carolan Lennon to clarify comments about the poor performance at its call centres.

Ms Lennon earlier told the Oireachtas Communications Committee it was "a mistake" to locate their call centre in the county.


Minister of State and Sligo-Leitrim TD Frank Feighan said he would write to Eir, as he did not believe the slight against the county was accurate.

In a statement, he said: "I have been receiving phone calls all morning from irate staff at Eir and from the business community in Sligo who are concerned about the consequences of such comments on future investment from call centre companies in Sligo and the North-West region.

"I will be writing to the CEO today as after speaking with local stakeholders on the ground in Sligo, I don’t believe the comments made about Sligo to be accurate".

He added: "We have had a number of call centres here in the past.

"Abtran for example have been operating from Finisklin in Sligo for a similar amount of time as Eir and yet there are not the same issues with its operations from Sligo.

"Avantcard in Carrick-on-Shannon have rolled out new operations with no issues.

"So these comments from the Eir CEO seem to be out of sync with other call centre operations in the area."

Ms Lennon apologised for the company's poor customer support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hundreds of Eir customers faced serious issues around connectivity and billing this year.

She blamed closed stores, remote working and a hiring freeze for the situation.

Of the 5,354 complaints to ComReg between July and September, two-thirds of those were about Eir.

Ms Lennon said they carried out 200,000 repairs during a very challenging time.

And she earlier said it took longer to train staff in Sligo.

"Probably this is a mistake that we did make in choosing Sligo to build from a greenfield [site].

"There was no history of contact centres in Sligo before we got there - which meant that when we were hiring staff, local staff, and people travelling from the environs, many of them came into us from retail or hospitality.

"But I think that was a challenge, it took us longer to train them".

'Eir is committed to Sligo'

However she later said her comments were taken up the wrong way, explaining: "I said and I meant - and if I said it incorrectly I apologise - that we made mistakes and we underestimated how difficult it was going to be to get a contact centre off the ground in Sligo.

"They are my mistakes, and my management team's mistakes, they're nothing to do with the staff in Sligo, the people in Sligo or any support we got in Sligo".

In a further statement after her appearance at the committee, Ms Lennon said: "Eir is committed to Sligo, we are committed to our Rathedmond care centre, just as we are committed to the hundreds of Eir employees working in care and field operations throughout the region and indeed, the thousands of Eir employees working all across Ireland.

"When I spoke of mistakes made in relation to Sligo, I wish to clarify that I was referring to mistakes I, and my management team, made in underestimating the complexities of building a care centre on a greenfield site.

"We have a talented team in Sligo and we also have every support we could ask for from the IDA and regional authorities, which we are grateful for.

"We are extremely proud of our Sligo centre and before the pandemic hit we were meeting every target set for care.

"We are steadily progressing on our plan to return to an acceptable level of care and I wish to apologise to any customer who has faced long wait times in recent months and thank all of our colleagues for their ongoing commitment and hard work throughout the pandemic."

A majority stake in the company was acquired by two French firms controlled by telecoms billionaire, Xavier Niel, back in 2018.

He acquired 65% of Eir through two companies: NJJ and Iliad.

Main image: Eir CEO Carolan Lennon at Leinster House to discuss broadband with the Oireachtas Communications Committee in 2019. Picture by: Leah Farrell /

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