Shankill Mast work halted

A GROUP of Southside residents have succeeded in getting an undertaking from the Office of Public Works to temporarily suspend work on the erection of a mobile phone mast.Last week residents of Dorney Court in Shankill met Tom Parlon, Minister of State at the OPW and their telecoms consultants, Vilicom, in an effort to indefinitely halt the erection of the mast adjoining the Garda station in Shankill. The Garda station building is located in the Dorney Court estate where hundreds of residents live within metres of it. St Anne’s School, Scoil Mhuire Rathsallagh Primary School and Rathmichael School are also located within 500 metres of the structure. Residents fear the possible health implications the mast could have for them and their children. Representatives of Dorney Court Residents’ Association met with the Minister last week and asked him to instruct Vilicom and John F Supple – the contractors operating on their behalf - to cease work on the Shankill mast immediately. Community representatives said that the people of Shankill had a right to see the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on non-ionising radiation and a report by Professor Elaine Fox at the Electro Magnetic and health laboratory at Essex University before any attempt was made to erect the mast. They also demanded that the OPW and Vilicom investigate alternative sites for the mast, which would fully satisfy the safety concerns of the local community. Finally they wanted a “firm undertaking” that when the new mast has been sited, in “a safe location”, that all the existing antennae will be removed from the current mast at Shankill Garda station.

Eamonn Keogh of the Dorney Court Residents’ Association, who attended the meeting, told Southside People that the people of Shankill welcomed the opportunity to voice the community’s concerns with the Minister. “What we said to the Minister is that you have to respect the community and take the prudent, cautious approach regarding the health of the people of Shankill,” he said. “We feel we have a right to see those reports before there is any further attempt to erect another mast in Shankill. “We would also be willing to engage with the OPW in identifying sites that would be located away from schools and houses. “We are not anti mobile phone but all we want to do is develop this in a safe way for the local community.” It has now been decided to arrange a meeting between locals and officials from the OPW and Vilicom for this week. A spokesperson for the OPW confirmed that the Minister had promised to review the situation on his return next week from a number of St Patrick’s Day parades in the United States. He had given an undertaking to temporarily suspend work on the mast until he had reviewed the outcome of this week’s meeting, the spokesperson confirmed. Welcoming the decision, Dun Laoghaire TD Eamonn Gilmore (Lab) said he was pleased that the Minister accepted the suggestion and work is now suspended. However, he added: “I believe that this of itself will not end the issue. There are clearly two totally opposing views about the mast and a way will still have to be found to resolve matters.”


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