Members of the Mountnugent community generally and people living in the village expressing their opposition to any possible move to erect a mast outside the Eir Telephone Exchange.

Mountnugent say ‘no’ to Eir mast

“We do not want it. We want someone from Eir to come and talk to us – it is a disgrace.”

That was the opinion of a young woman from Mountnugent who is one of many local people concerned about the possible erection of a mast outside the telephone exchange.

Gráinne McEntee and her partner Stephen Smith live across the road from the exchange, where it appears Eir are preparing to erect a mast.

They and others claim there has been no consultation with the community and no planning permission sought.

However, the Celt understands such structures under 12 metres in height are considered exempt development and do not require planning permission.

A spokesperson for Eir confirmed to this newspaper yesterday (Tuesday): ‘Eir is carrying out development at Mountnugent Exchange, Co Cavan, as exempted development for telecommunications services under Class 31 of Part 1, schedule 2 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 and subsequent (Amendment No. 3) Regulations 2018.

‘The development will form part of the Eir mobile network enhancing services in Mountnugent and the surrounding areas.’

The work is being carried out as part of Eir’s investment in its mobile and broadband network to enhance and resolve mobile coverage blackspots.

When the Celt visited Mountnugent village on Friday evening, local people gathered in numbers to express their outright opposition to any structure being erected in that picturesque location.

“My fear is that there is going to be a mast erected on this foundation base. The bolts are in place to secure a mast structure and we were never informed that any mast infrastructure was going to be put on the site. Nobody communicated with us at all,” outlined Gráinne.

She was calling on Eir to clarify its intentions for the site and claimed the local authority is not aware of any planned development. Planning issues aside, Gráinne feels the community are entitled to be kept informed and consulted about such proposals.

“It is a disgrace and there is a school only up the way. I am right across the road and Ciara’s hairdressers is right beside it. We do not want it. We want someone from Eir to come and talk to us. It is a disgrace!” she slammed, referring to a historic planning application that was refused.

In 2000, Eircell Ltd had a planning application turned down by Cavan County Council to erect a support pole and antennae for mobile communications in the village.

Gráinne feels such masts should be located away from populated areas. She and her partner Stephen say they would not have purchased their home two years ago were they aware this was going to happen across the road.

“We contacted the various groups in the village and pointed out that we have to send objections to the county council. The very next morning there were 48 objections from the community. Every single person that lives in the village and surrounding area put in an objection,” claimed Stephen.

“If not one person in the community wants it, why is it set to go ahead?” he asked.

Dermot Brady is chairman of the Community Development Association. He too is in the dark as to the plans for the site.

The chairman pointed out that Mountnugent has a lot of old historic buildings. “There is no way we want that monstrosity overlooking everything,” he said.

Dermot is also involved in the Tidy Towns Committee, which is seeking funding to paint the buildings in the village. “When you visit, you want to see the old buildings painted up and not a mast,” he remarked.

Ciara McGurren who owns Headmasters Hair Salon right next door to the Eir site told the Celt: “I am extremely worried as I am going to be working everyday with this monstrosity erected beside me. My biggest fear is the radiation – I am just disgusted that we have not been informed.”

She continued: “Nobody spoke to me. There were lots of men working on the site. They are coming in doing it under our noses. Another worry is that I have three small children and the school is just up the road.

“I have no problems with the need for communications but put it somewhere away from where people live and work. If I want to put a room onto the side of my house, I have to look for planning. If this mast goes up there, it will de-value my property,” continued Ciara.

“I bought this building and I have worked hard to build up the business,” she added.

Fine Gael councillor Trevor Smith has also been contacted by worried locals on the issue. He told the Celt: “Seemingly Eir is just coming in and going to ride roughshod over everybody and putting up this new structure without consulting anyone. I think it is very arrogant of Eir.”

He feels such masts should require planning, even if they are under 12 metres.

“It is not fair on the residents to stick a mast up in the middle of village. I don’t think it is fair on the community,” said Cllr Smith who has also raised the issue with the planning department in Cavan County Council.

“There have been over 50 submissions to the council objecting to this, even though there is no planning permission. The community are rallying against this happening,” said Cllr Smith.

Local man Noel Connell and former Sinn Féin councillor said there was no public consultation. “I contacted Cavan County Council to see what was the situation and they did not know about it,” he said.

“They will not come in here and bully people in a little village like this. They are not going to get away with it,” said Mr Connell.

Cavan County Council, meanwhile, confirmed to this newspaper that it has received a number of correspondences from members of the public in relation to this issue.

A spokesperson said: "The proposed development is not the subject of a current planning application. Cavan County Council has written to the relevant party seeking further information and is awaiting a response."