Concerns about the possible effects of the new 5G mobile phone network were discussed in Cork County Council yesterday as two motions were dedicated to the issue.
Fine Gael councillors Karen Coakley and Kevin Murphy brought forward separate motions on 5G expressing worry from residents and themselves about the network which is being rolled out nationwide.
5G is the next step in mobile phone network following on from the 3G and 4G networks currently being used. 5G will offer much faster internet data speeds. Vodafone has already began 5G services in all major Irish cities, including Cork, with other phone networks following shortly.
However, the rollout of 5G across the world has been opposed in some sections with individuals and groups raising health concerns but these concerns have been rejected as baseless.
In County Hall yesterday, Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Hayes and Independent Councillor Alan Coleman both asked for a report to be compiled to bring more information on the 5G network to the council.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Gearoid Murphy said he had concerns about the tone of the motions and said that based on his research he could find no studies that would give reason for alarm in relation to the network.
However, Independent Councillor Marcia Dalton said that there was a reason to be sufficiently concerned and the Government have been asked for more information in relation to the network and have yet to provide the information requested.
Green Party Councillor Alan O'Connor said non-ionising radiation (NIR) has no effect on people however, he also said we can’t be complacent. "We once thought that the sun revolved around the earth and there is nothing wrong with getting more information on the topic."
John Paul O’Shea said he would encourage more communication between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Department in County Hall while Independent Councillor Danny Collins said that the Government did get independent advice on the new network, but also said there must be unanswered questions when countries like Belgium are not rolling it out.
“We have to get more advice on this. I think we should write to the Government and ask for more information.”
Fine Gael Councillor Susan McCarthy said she also supported the motion as we are not experts and the council needed more information. “It is right for us to show concern, this is a national issue. We need to hear from ComReg and the Department. Elected members are given a mandate to represent the public, we need to uncover the facts.”
Fianna Fáil Councillor Seamus McGrath said it was a straight forward motion looking for additional information and it should be followed through on. “These are innocuous motions, there is a vacuum of information around 5G. There is concern out there and those concerns have to be addressed."
County Mayor Christopher O’Sullivan suggested that a representative from ComReg should be invited to a development committee meeting and a detailed report should be sought from a body to better inform the councillors on the topic of 5G.
County Chief Executive Tim Lucey emphasized that the councils as an organisation will not undertake the study and agreed another body could carry out the work.
In response to the motions raised at the council, Director of Services for the Environment and Emergency Services Ted O’Leary outlined that the EPA advises the Minister on standards and regulations relating to NIR.
“The EPA also provides information to the public on matters of public exposure in relation to NIR. The EPA relies on the international guidelines set out by the International Commission on NIR protection (ICNIRP).”
The council will now write to the ComReg inviting them to attend a council committee meeting to discuss 5G.