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Sinn Féin critical of O2 approach to phone masts

26 May, 2005

Sinn Féin South Down Assembly Member Caitriona Ruane and local Sinn Fein Councillor Michael Ruane have described decisions made by O2 in relation to the erection of phone masts in Warrenpoint as 'completely unacceptable'. They were speaking after a phone mast, which had been recently erected in the town's Milltown Industrial Estate, was damaged in an incident which took place in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Ms Ruane said:

"Sinn Fein is very pro-active on this issue and our representatives have been in continual contact with companies such as O2 and Orange to ensure that phone masts are erected on sites that are a safe distance from residential areas.

"We have organised public meetings and kept people updated on all possible developments yet it is clear that O2 in particular have disregarded the genuine fears of the local community by insisting on erecting a mast on the Milltown Industrial Estate.

"In a letter we received in April from Ken Leitch, an O2 representative, he implied that O2 did not believe it was important to adhere to Newry and Mourne council guidelines which make clear phone masts must be situated at least 500 metres from residential areas. In relation to the Milltown Site he stated: 'the site we are now proposing to move to is 220 metres from the nearest residential property'. This cavalier attitude to the potential dangers posed by telephone masts is completely unacceptable and has caused mounting frustration and anger in the town. Last night's destruction of the phone mast in Milltown illustrates the complexities involved in siting masts in towns which is made even more difficult when a company like O2 disregard the local community and their concerns.

Cllr Michael Ruane echoed these comments and has been liasing directly with local business people to try and resolve this issue. "Sinn Fein has consistently argued that the Milltown Industrial Estate is a totally unsuitable site for a phone mast as it is near to a residential area and close to where people work. People living in Warrenpoint deserve to be treated properly and should not have their health put at risk because of a phone company whose main aim is to ensure healthy profit margins. ENDS

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