Telephone antennae on station masts opposed

 

Gardai have called for no further mobile telephone antennae to be situated on radio masts in Garda stations and for an independent inquiry into possible health side-effects from microwave emissions.

The GRA, which represents 8,500 members of garda rank, yesterday voted to oppose any further Esat Digifone antennae on Garda radio masts.

The association also heard criticism of the deal struck between the Garda, Department of Justice and Esat over the siting of telephone antennae in return for the free use of mobile telephones by senior officers.

There was unanimous backing for a motion calling for no further telecommunications antennae on stations and for an independent survey of the effects of emissions.

Garda Hugh Corrigan, of Wexford, said: "The Government are not listening to the thousands of ordinary people campaigning against these masts and phone companies placing these masts near where people live and work.

"It is the State's duty to defend personal and property rights of every citizen. The Garda authorities as an agent of the State are failing in this duty."

Garda Peter Kelly, from Ronanstown, said the new Garda station there was built beside high-tension electricity pylons and, combined with the siting of telecommunications antennae, this was a cause of great concern for gardai serving there. Three officers had contracted cancer and one had died recently.

Garda Maurice Johnston, from Cork, said the contract entered into by the Garda Commissioner, Mr Pat Byrne, with Esat had been to the "pain and horror" of many members.

The conference was told there was a three-year waiting list for gardai seeking training as qualified drivers.

In the absence of a sufficient number of qualified drivers, young officers with only ordinary licences were being directed by chief superintendents to drive squad cars.

The GRA deputy president, Mr Michael Kerby, said such directions were contrary to the health and safety at work legislation.