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Hutchison 3G deny mast danger to Villiers school students

The company which wants to place a phone mast on the roof of a Limerick boarding school has stressed its transmission facilities "operate well within all guidelines applied nationally and internationally." Hutchison 3G has, in the last fortnight, applied to erect the mast on Villiers School on the North Circular Road.

The application seeking permission to construct "a 5m white flagpole with antennas encased" and equipment cabinets was lodged with Limerick City Council on April 3.

The Office of Public Wofks, meanwhile, has ordered that no mobile masts be erected on public buildings near schools pending the report of an interdepartmental committee in July.

Officials from the Departments of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Health and Children and Education and Science have been tasked to investigate any potential health risks associated with the installations.

But one man with a child in the fee-paying school said to even consider putting a mast on top of the school is "outrageous." "To have a mast on top of a boarding school where children are living defies belief," the irate parent said.

"I think there's over 100 boarders there and it's unbelievable that the school authorities, supposedly the guardians of the children, would allow a mast on top of the school," he added.

But Hutchison 3G's John Gallagher stated that "all international studies undertaken so far have indicated no evidence of any harmful effects arising from the masts."

This was rejected out of hand by the parent however, who claimed socalled impartial studies had been commissioned by vested interests and in the absence of concrete evidence, precaution was the best approach.

"People have their fears and it's impossible at times to satisfy people with fears~" Mr Gallagher responded.

"The masts are currently 100 times below the recommended levels and while we respect people's concerns, we can only put the facts out there." "All we can do is operate within the guidelines.

It's no going through the planning process and we will have to see what happens." The company, he added, was aiming to maximise its service and coverage around the country was described as "almost total." Management at Villiers meanwhile, admitted to a degree of nervousness when first approached by Hutchison 3G on the matter but have satisfied themselves that there is no danger to pupils or staff.

"But we're assured by people who know about new technology that there are no dangers and that the device (mobile phone) itself would be more harmful than having a mast beside the school," said Dean Maurice Sirr, chairman of Villiers board of governors.
"We'll let them go ahead with the application and see what transpires," he added.


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