Residents protest outside OPW offices

AROUND 70 residents from Rathmines protested outside the Office of Public Works headquarters last week demanding that the State body break its contract with two telecom companies regarding their equipment on a mobile phone mast.Tom Parlon, the minister in charge of the Office of Public Works, announced in October last that he had asked telecom companies, 3 Ireland and Vodafone, to switch off their transmitters at Ardee House in Rathmines pending the findings of an interdepartmental report into the health effects of electromagnetic radiation. This move followed pressure from local residents. Ardee House is owned by the Government and is home to the Central Statistics Office. It is also within yards of the St Mary’s and St Louis national and secondary schools in Rathmines. In spite of assurances from Justice Minister Michael McDowell to locals, both companies turned down the request saying they were operating within Government guidelines. In a recent reply to a Dáil question from Dublin South East TD, John Gormley (GP), Minister Parlon said he now had “no contractual basis for insisting the equipment is deactivated”.

Mary McInerney, who lives close to Ardee House and who attended the protest last week, said it was “unbelievable” that the Minister had signed a contract with the telecom companies that he could not get out of. “We want the mast to be deactivated,” she said. “The Minister told us in October last year that he had asked the mobile operators to turn off the mast and that he would not issue any more licences to them,” she told Southside People. “A lot of concerned parents who have children in the local schools contacted me and I told them that the mast would be deactivated as the Minister had given us that impression. “Then he said that he could not break the contract so who is in charge here and how could he have signed a contract that has no ‘out’ clause?” Chris Andrews, who has been selected to contest a Dáil seat in the Dublin South East constituency for Fianna Fail at the next general election, said Minister McDowell is either “unwilling or unable” to stop the telecom companies from operating the mast. “He has obviously failed his constituents and people all around the country who have genuine concerns around the issue,” said Mr Andrews. “He has acknowledged that they have concerns but has failed to do anything about it.” On Thursday last the OPW issued a statement saying that contrary to some recent reports Minister of State Tom Parlon had never refused to meet concerned residents over the issue of mobile phone masts in Rathmines. However, in response to a Dáil question from Deputy John Gormley last month, Minister Parlon is on the record as saying: “In the circumstances, I feel a meeting with local parents would not serve any useful purpose at this stage.” The statement from the OPW last week continued: “Minister Parlon is quite prepared to meet with delegations about this issue at a mutually convenient time for both parties. “The Office of Public Works continues to ensure that all relevant Planning Regulations and international Health and Safety standards in the erection of telecommunications equipment on State buildings are adhered to.”


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