Arsonist destroys mobile mast and daubs threatening graffiti

By Jennifer Long

Friday, November 10, 2006

GARDAI in the city are investigating the second arson attack within months on a controversial mobile phone mast in Ballygunner.

For the second time since the summer, the controversial Meteor mast on the grounds of Ballygunner GAA Club was completely destroyed by fire on Friday evening.

The Waterford News & Star also understands that threatening graffiti, directed at one of the club’s most senior officials, was sprayed on a wall on the club’s grounds as part of the attack. Forensic tests have been carried out in a bid to shed light on the assailants while householders in the locality have also been interviewed.

The mast, erected in 2005, is currently the subject of a planning appeal to An Bord Pleanala. It was granted planning retention by the City Council in the summer causing uproar in the locality, particularly among close residents and the parents of children attending St. Mary’s National School which is situated beside the GAA grounds.

A number of appeals are with the Dublin-based board, including from the specially-formed ‘Concerned Parents in relation to Masts’ group, the Parents’ Association at St. Mary’s and a number of local residents.Yesterday (Tuesday), the chairwoman of the ‘Concerned Parents in relation to Masts’ group, Ann Marie Jackman, said she wanted to completely disassociate the group from the arson attack.

“We deplore this kind of behaviour. From the start we have highlighted our grievances at planning level and we will continue our campaign in this regard,” she said.

“We want to completely disassociate ourselves from this act of vandalism which is just not the way to do things.

We feel we’ve a very strong case on a planning level and while we were disappointed with Waterford City Council granting permission, we still have faith in An Bord Pleanala to do what is right.” She further said that that the group had been heartened by the expression of interest by MEP Kathy Sinnott in the Ballygunner case.

“She has an interest in these matters and has mentioned, should our appeal fail, the possibility of fighting our case in the European courts. She has acknowledged that what’s happening in Ballygunner is very serious - this mast is far too near a school, crèche, nursing home and 167-house residential development that will be occupied as soon as next month,” Ann Marie Jackman added.

© Waterford News & Star, 2006.




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