Harney to probe residents’ mast cancer case claim

CONTROVERSY: Locals campaign for the removal of structure which they say is responsible for 37 cases of cancer in area near garda station

Health Minister Mary Harney has agreed to investigate a controversial mobile phone mast in Clondalkin, Dublin after meeing with local residents, including Jean and Jennifer Joyce who claim it is behind high cancer rates in the area

Cathal McMahon

Health Minister Mary Harney has agreed to investigate a controversial Clondalkin mast which residents say is behind the unusually high cancer figures in the area.

Mast Action Clondalkin (MAC) have campaigned in recent months for the removal of a mast, attached to Ronanstown Garda station, which they say is responsible for 37 cancer cases in the immediate area. And this week local TD Mary Harney met with group leader Imelda Russell, whose younger brother Brian (22) suffers from a brain tumour and Jean Joyce, the mother of three women who all suffer from different forms of cancer.

Upbeat following the 45- minute meeting Imelda said: "We were very pleased with the meeting. She said she was going to make her own inquiries with the gardai".

The Evening Herald has reported on the infamous O2 mast which the residents group say is responsible for nine officers being struck down with different forms of brain illness in the last number of years.


But now Imelda says she is hopeful that Ms Harney's positive gestures may be the first steps towards the tearing down of the fixture which sits behind her house.

"She was willing to listen" said Imelda. "She said she will get back to us in a week on whether she will carry out an official investigation into it."

"We want her to investigate cancer cases in our area and to compare our area to cancer cases somewhere where there is no mast, said Imelda.

"We want the minister to investigate the detrimental effects regarding people's proximity to a phone mast or electrical pylons in the North Clondalkin area."

Imelda and Jean were supported at the meeting by local politician Gino Kenny. Jean's three daughters, living just metres from the mast and a series of large pylons, all suffer from different forms of cancer.

The oldest, mother-of-one Ann (30), died of a brain tumour in February. Her sister Jennifer (28) is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer of the cervix while Rebecca (25) has a form of skin cancer that prevents her from giving birth.

Jean, who cares for a number of grandchildren, told the minister that she is concerned for the health of the youngsters and worried that they might suffer a similar fate to her beloved daughters.

Following the discovery of the cases, MAC carried out a study into cancer figures and they discovered that 37 people living in the small area surrounding the station were suffering with the disease.

"This is disgraceful" Imelda said previously. "We are happy that the HSE has recognised our campaign and our concerns in relation to the phone masts and electrical pylons in our area."

The group presented their preliminary health findings to the Minister yesterday. Despite the alarming figures, two studies of the mast were carried out by Health and Safety officer at the station, Liam Walshe. He said, "We can't prove that this means this mast is causing the tumours but we also can't disprove it." The Office of Public Works (OPW), which made the decision to put the mast in the station, insists that it is within EU guidelines and they refute the idea that the mast is responsible for the cancer cases in the area.