Work continues on Shankill mast

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has refused to stop work on the erection of a contentious mobile phone mast at a Southside Garda Station. The Oireachtas Committee on the Environment asked the OPW commissioner, David Byers, to suspend work on the erection of 12 transmitters proposed for the mast at Shankill Garda station. Last Wednesday, hundreds of local residents protested outside the Garda station in Shankill against the erection of the mast. The Dáil committee wanted Mr Byers to order the OPW’s consultants Vilicom to stop their work at the site, pending clarification of planning issues and an inter-departmental report on the health implications of mobile phone masts. Mr Byers refused to do so, arguing that the OPW had received a letter from Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, which confirmed that the work was exempt from planning permission. He said the OPW would get legal advice on the matter and report back to the committee when they had done so.

However, Dun Laoghaire TD, Eamon Gilmore (Lab), told Southside People last week that he believed the case was “by no means an open and shut case”. Deputy Gilmore said that the council had made no formal declaration that the development was exempt from planning permission. The committee had asked the council to make this declaration, he said. When this declaration is made both parties will be able to appeal the exempted development to An Bord Pleanala. Deputy Gilmore added that he doubted whether the development was exempted for a number of reasons, such as the number of antennae on the mast and the fact that one of the mobile companies had not yet claimed an exemption. He has written to the council highlighting what he believes may disqualify the exemption. Last week, local Fine Gael councillor, John Bailey, said a recently formed group called Shankill Community Against Radiation (SCAR) is demanding that Dun Laoghaire Rathdown’s Government TDs ensure that the State guarantees the health and safety of its constituents ahead of the interests of mobile phone companies. “It is vital that our elected Government TDs join in the campaign to prevent the mast from being erected in Shankill,” Cllr Bailey said. Three weeks ago, 47 gardai at Shankill station signed a petition voicing their concerns about the possible health implications the mast could have. Speaking to Southside People last week, Garda John O’Brien, a local representative for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) who organised the petition, said he was concerned that An Garda Siochana were being “sold out” by Justice Minister Michael McDowell and his PD colleague, Minister of State at the OPW, Tom Parlon. “I think the Garda Siochana are for sale as far as the PDs are concerned,” Garda O’Brien said. “The Garda Siochana is in the unfortunate position of being tenants of the OPW. “We, as tenants, have no say now,” he added. “The Garda authorities have done a deal with the OPW and I hear the sum of e10 million has been mentioned. “We are in a bleak position and we cannot be out protesting with the public because we could be out arresting them the following day if a High Court injunction was taken against the protestors.”


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