The Eir exchange (left) on the Ballymahon Road in Glasson, where an 18-metre mast is due to be installed some nine metres from the home of Edel Finneran (right).

Glasson public meeting hears calls to relocate contentious telecom mast

More than 80 people, including several politicians, attended a public meeting last week where there were calls from local residents for the relocation of a telecom mast planned for the Tubberclair side of Glasson village.

The installation of an 18-metre mast at the existing Eir exchange on the Ballymahon Road, between Glasson village and Tubberclair GAA Club, was awarded planning permission in 2021.

Towercom is the company carrying out the development, and Towercom representative John Gallagher recently said it intends to install the mast, or monopole, "in stages over the coming weeks and months".

At the public meeting last week, local residents argued that the site for the mast, which is just nine metres from one of the houses in the area, was totally unsuitable.

The meeting was held on Tuesday evening, April 11, in Glasson Heritage Centre, and attendees included TDs Robert Troy and Peter Burke, Senator Micheál Carrigy, and councillors John Dolan, Aengus O'Rourke and Tom Farrell.

Sorca Clarke, TD, sent her representative, Ger O'Rourke, and Cllr Frankie Keena sent his apologies.

The meeting featured a presentation on behalf of the local residents from health and safety consultant Shane Lynam.

It was stated that the residents fully supported and understood the need for high-quality communication infrastructure in the area. However, they said the chosen site was unsuitable due to its close proximity to homes and its prominent location alongside a busy national regional road.

The meeting heard that there was already an existing mast at the local pitch, approximately 500 metres from the proposed site, and they wanted Towercom to investigate the possibility of upgrading the existing structure to help avoid mast proliferation in the area.

Mr Lynam told those present at the meeting that there were concerns about health and safety implications of the planned structure, and these concerns had not been addressed by either Westmeath County Council or Towercom.

In addition to the elected representatives present, former TD Kevin 'Boxer' Moran was in attendance, and said he believed the planned location for the mast was "wrong" and "would have a big impact on the landscape of the village, not alone the major impact on the houses beside it".

"The politicians let the people down. When this planning application was lodged, and the height of the mast was 18 meters, it should have sent a red flag to politicians," said 'Boxer.

The meeting concluded with Mr Lynam, on behalf of the residents, suggesting that Deputy Robert Troy re-engage with Towercom to arrange a meeting with a view to relocating the mast to a more suitable location.

Deputy Troy agreed to contact Towercom in this regard.

The meeting heard that, until such a meeting can be arranged, the residents were "committed to pursuing every avenue" to prevent the construction of the mast at its current proposed location.

A Facebook page opposing the development, entitled 'Relocate the proposed mast for Glasson' was also set up earlier this month.

When contacted by the Westmeath Independent about the local opposition to the mast, Towercom representative Mr Gallagher said in late March that the Glasson site would "deliver services identically to sites countrywide, many of which are situated next to houses or on rooftops and very close to human habitation.

"The site has full planning permission and will comply with all relevant health and other regulations," he added.