"If it's not safe enough for Brussels, why is it safe for Enniscrone?"
This was one of the many questions posed at a packed public meeting organized by the Stop 5G Enniscrone group last Tuesday evening in the west Sligo village.
A crowd of approximately 200 people at the Ocean Sands Hotel heard that concerns regarding potential health risks from 5G technology are 'not scaremongering, they're scientific" - that was the message from guest speaker Professor Tom Butler of University College Cork, who provided a detailed presentation via a Skype link to the attendance.
The public meeting was the latest in a series of events organised in the area in opposition to the erection of a mast to provide 5G technology in the area.
There have also been meetings in Tubbercurry, Collooney and Sligo. In all, five masts have been given the go ahead for ESB sub stations in the county at locations in Enniscrone, Oakfield Road, Collooney, Cranmore Road and Glen Wood in Coolaney.
The Enniscrone campaign has been ongoing for a number of weeks, after residents became alarmed on learning that planning permission was granted for a mast at the ESB substation at Frankford, on the northern perimeter of the village, in July.
The mast, if erected in this location, would be within 40 metres of a housing estate, 300 metres from the local nursing home and 400 metres from the local creche, the meeting heard.
The campaign to halt the rollout of 5G has gathered significant momentum and concerns have spread further - in nearby Culleens, a meeting was due to be held last night (Monday) in response to a planning application for a mast in that area, while another public meeting was held recently in Collooney after it emerged there were plans for the erection of a mast in the town.
European cities Brussels and Geneva have banned the rollout of 5G in recent times, citing potential health risks and the uncertainty around the technology.
Professor Butler - who has been vocal with regard to the potential health risks attached to 5G - gave a talk based on the theme 'What does science have to say about the significant risks of 5G'.
In a wide-ranging presentation, Professor Butler spoke of the thousands of scientific studies which suggest that there are adverse health effects resulting from exposure to 5G. His address also included an insight into how 5G technology works.
Referencing a number of academic works - including a paper from American academic Professor Beatrice Alexandra Golomb of the San Diego School of Medicine, which was distributed to the attendance - Professor Butler said there is evidence that exposure to radiation from 5G technology can lead to certain illnesses. Following his presentation, Professor Butler engaged in a questions and answers session with the attendance.
"We're absolutely delighted to have around 200 people here tonight - six weeks ago we only had 30 or 40 people but since then we've worked very hard on social media and going door-to-door, informing them of this big hazard that's going to come into this area," committee member Eamon O'Malley said.
"We'd an absolutely brilliant presentation by Professor Tom Butler from UCC and he gave a great awareness to the people and you can see there has definitely been a shift in the last few weeks in relation to this."
Mr O'Malley was one of four local speakers at the meeting - also at the top table were Marina Conway, Michael Moyles and Cian Mulrooney.
The meeting was also attended by Sligo County Councillors Michael Clarke, Joe Queenan, Thomas Healy and Thomas Walsh. Enniscrone-based councillor Joe Queenan said: "I was thrilled to see so many people here in Enniscrone - it's a great boost to the local organisation who have been under serious pressure and distress in recent weeks with the shock of planning permission being granted for the 5G mast in Frankford."
A motion to call on the Minister to review the rollout of 5G in Sligo is set to come before next month's meeting of Sligo County Council.
Cllr Queenan continued: "We initiated a motion from our area meeting in Tubbercurry - to oppose the rollout of 5G and call on the Minister to review it.
"A similar motion has already been passed in Clare and Roscommon - our motion is similar to the Roscommon motion - and I've no doubt that all the elected members in the county will back it and that it will be sent to the Department and hopefully then, with the help of our Oireachtas members, that we will at least get a review of what's happening with 5G in the county."
Cllr Thomas Healy, who is also involved in a similar campaign in with regard to a mast in Collooney, spoke afterwards of his concerns. He said: "90pc of the meetings I'm going to, it's people concerned about health. It's nothing against 5G, but what we want to know is it safe?
"We're all singing here on the same hymn sheet - we want communication, we want better systems coming in, but not if it's going to affect people's health."
Cllr Michael Clarke commented on the potential problems that may arise in other communities.
"These people are reacting to a planning permission - there's lots of areas throughout county Sligo that won't require planning permission, there's existing masts there where this 5G technology can go up without any planning permission.
"Areas like Skreen, Dromard, Easkey and Dromore West will all receive this technology and there's no planning permission required.
"So, hopefully the wider community will come along and support Culleens and Enniscrone in having these technologies stopped."
Cllr Thomas Walsh added: "I share the concerns regarding 5G. It's important that there will be an increased level of research into 5G technology, and the Department has appointed the EPA to provide independent advice on this. All the Fine Gael councilors will support the motion at the next council meeting." Buoyed by the support at the public meeting, the Stop 5G Enniscrone group together with other groups plan on staging a protest outside the County Council at the next meeting of the council on Monday, September 2nd.
5G networks are the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices. Average download speeds of around 1GBps is expected with 5G. Vodafone has already launched its 5G network in Ireland and is available in Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Galway with further expansion planned in the coming months.