State nets €10m from mobile phone operators’ use of masts on public buildings

Garda stations providing most facilities with Fitzgibbon St station in Dublin alone generating €185k since 2018

Catherine Murphy TD: said the bigger incomes in the Dublin area were accounted for because it is difficult to find locations to put masts.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Catherine Murphy TD: said the bigger incomes in the Dublin area were accounted for because it is difficult to find locations to put masts. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The State has earned almost €10 million in income from mobile phone operators for the use of masts on Garda stations and other public buildings.

Since 2018 the masts have generated €9,786,707 for State coffers from 162 Garda stations and 18 other buildings.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said it is ironic that the biggest income from a single station is from Fitzgibbon Street station in Dublin’s north inner city “which apart from a very small section, isn’t functioning as a Garda station. While it’s closed it’s still earning an income because of the very large mast at the back of the station”.

Mobile phone mast income from the station is worth €185,000 since the start of 2018. Ms Murphy said that Stepaside station in south Dublin was closed for a number of years but continued to generate income, worth over €169,000 since 2018.

“The reason they don’t require planning permission is because they are Garda stations but if they’re functioning without that, that is an issue in its own right.”

The information on income for the State was supplied in response to a parliamentary question to Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe.

Mr Donohoe said the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland grant licences to mobile network operators to install telecommunications equipment on State property, primarily Garda telecommunication structures and the rooftops of other OPW buildings. A standard licence agreement sets out the terms and conditions under which mobile phone operators are permitted to locate on State property.

Stations in the Dublin area generated most income with Fitzgibbon Street and Stepaside followed by Mountjoy station in the north inner city where mast income was worth €167,576 since 2108. Balbriggan station earned €148,872 and Lucan Garda station mast income was valued at €164,000.

Smaller towns

Incomes decreased the more rural the station and a number of smaller towns and villages generated annual incomes of around €7,000.

Ms Murphy acknowledged that this was “good income coming into the State and I think that goes directly to the OPW rather than going into the Garda coffers – but it is income on foot of there being Garda stations”.

Ms Murphy said the bigger incomes in the Dublin area were accounted for because it is difficult to find locations to put masts.

Some rural areas “may well have the mast on a local GAA club or soccer pitch so it means that there isn’t the same pressure on the Garda station and it may well account for why the Dublin stations have a greater income”.

Mobile phone masts are also located at Dublin Castle, the Met Éireann building and the Phoenix Park among other OPW locations.