Tuesday 17 September 2019

Councillors seek to delay roll out of 5G

These children made their point outside County Hall, Riverside on Monday morning in advance of the County Council meeting
These children made their point outside County Hall, Riverside on Monday morning in advance of the County Council meeting

Sorcha Crowley

Sligo County Council voted on Monday to delay the testing and roll out of 5G in the county. They also called on ComReg to delay licensing for the roll out and called on the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton to establish the facts about the radiation impact of 5G.

Dozens of concerned residents from Enniscrone and other areas protested outside the Council headquarters at Riverside as councillors arrived for the September monthly meeting.  "The telecommunications companies seem to be as unregulated as the banks," said Darren Hallinan, a parent from Enniscrone.

"We need tight regulation. I found a mast up in Ballisodare yesterday, in a housing estate. People are feeling the health effects but they can't make the connection," he told The Sligo Champion.  Another concerned resident, Johnny Banks, who was representing the Teeling Centre in Collooney, was critical of a proposal to erect a mast 20m from a crèche, closest to the baby room. "It can't go ahead," he said.  The motion originally proposed by Cllrs Martin Baker, Michael Clarke, Martin Connolly, Gerard Mullaney, Dara Mulvey, Joe Queenan and Paul Taylor called for 5G to be opposed.

However Cllrs Connolly, Baker, Mullaney, Mulvey and Taylor successfully amended it to "delay" rather than "oppose." Cllr Clarke was against the amendment, claiming a delay "meant nothing", while Cllr Queenan was also against just delaying 5G.  However, the other councillors said they needed more time to find out the fact of 5G and a delay would facilitate that. Cllr Thomas Healy said he suggested the amendment to the proposing councillors and was glad they had taken his suggestion on board. 

"This is not to stop the roll out of the Government's broadband plan but we need assurance from the ESB. I've asked them to attend meetings. The Government has done nothing. They've sat on their hands. We want assurance that what's coming in here is 100 per cent safe," he told the meeting.  "We want to get the roll out but not at the expense of somebody's health and especially not our young people," he said, eliciting a round of applause from anti-5G campaigners in the public gallery.  Council Chief Executive Ciaran Hayes said it was the Council's view that whatever decision was made, it should be informed and a delay would facilitate that. However he also said "the information is that 5G is not harmful."

"We're looking for jobs for our youth - the jobs are in IT. Tubbercurry has been nominated a smart community. The whole thrust is to keep the next generation in Sligo. The consequences of your decision will affect Sligo one way or another, to progress or regress it," he added.  The vote on the amendment to the motion was put to a vote and all members voted to delay 5G, with only Cllrs Joe Queenan and Michael Clarke voting against it as they wanted 5G opposed altogether. The vote to delay the 5G roll out was then agreed. Cllr Healy also suggested sharing it with all the other Local Authorities and the ESB.

Sligo Champion