A pay dispute at the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) results in all out strike and power cuts affecting industrial, agricultural and domestic users across the country.
Electricity supplies across the country were wound down as ESB workers placed pickets on eight major generating stations. The unions picketed Poolbeg in Dublin, Tarbert in Kerry, Aghada in Cork, Allenwood in Kildare, Rhode in Offaly, Great Island in Wexford, and Lanesborough in Longford, as well as the giant new Moneypoint power station on the Shannon in county Clare.
The strike was clearly effective with some of the biggest firms in the country closing down operations. The ESB estimates that almost half of industry did not start production at all. Among the biggest firms shut down by the power cut were Aughinish Alumina Ltd in the Shannon Estuary, Irish Steel in Cork, and NET in Arklow. Asahi textile plant in Mayo is said to be at high risk and if it shuts down operations, it could take seven days before it restarts resulting in a massive loss in production and financial costs.
Ray Bowman of the Construction Industry Institute (CII) says the power outage is putting jobs at risk, disrupting industrial operations, and its impact, if it continues will be extremely serious.
600,000 customers will have been without power for periods of three hours by midnight. Retailers have been coping as best they can, with one pharmacist operating under candlelight. Hand pumps were used at petrol stations. There was traffic chaos as traffic lights were out of operation. Many families were without cooking facilities, light and power.
Reporter Vere Wynne Jones spoke to some of those affected by the power outage, with one worried 76-year-old woman commenting
It went off at one o'clock. It came back at five and now it's gone again. We barely got a cup of tea.
Another woman describes how she has managed to feed her children around the power outages.
Francis Corrigan describes the situation at Simpsons Hospital where at the moment there is only emergency lighting which is inadequate for the needs of older people and may result in accidents.
Somebody could die as a result of this.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 5 May 1987. The reporter is Joe O'Brien.