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Church may add mobile phone mast to bell tower

A mobile phone mast on a Church of Ireland church has caused consternation among residents of south Dublin. Locals fear the equipment planned for the church bell tower of St Matthias Church on Church Road in Ballybrack could damage their health and the health of children in a nearby school.

Mobile phone company Vodafone have applied for planning permission for the erection of four antennae and radio dishes and associated equipment cabinets in the church tower.

"It defies belief that they are going to put these masts into the belfry of the church," says John Kavanagh who lives nearby.

"It is going to be beaming down on all of us and all our kids. I am opposed to this on health grounds because there is no conclusive evidence that these things are not dangerous in the long-term.

"I just think that there are better places to site these things rather than beside a school and in the middle of a residential area. I am a bit shocked that the church are considering this."

Last year, local councillors Tom Kivlehan (GP) and John Bailey (FG) proposed that the county council should review its policy and phone masts would not be located closer than 600 metres to a school, childcare facility, residential area or nursing home.

The Sunday Independent asked the Church of Ireland what consultation they had with residents about the mast.

In a statement, they said: "The notification process to local residents is facilitated through the application for planning permission made by Vodafone through the local authority."

We also asked Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to comment on local wishes that they defer the decision on the mast until the Dail committee had issued its findings.

A council spokesperson said: "The application will be considered in accordance with the Planning and Development Act, and the council cannot pre-empt the decision."

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