AN enlightened suggestion of a charitable donation may be just the thing to fix a recently developed spat between a Laois village and communications company over a contentious telecoms mast newly erected.
“If they don’t want to take it down, then maybe they could make a kind donation to the Scarecrow Festival. It’d be better for all concerned,” suggested cllr John King.
“If they were willing to give 30 grand to the GAA, they should be well able to give a similar donation to the DDF and the people of the village,” he opined.
In the past week, Cignal Communications put up a 15m mast at Barnhill on the N77 just outside Durrow to aid 4G shortfall in the vicinity, and with a 3m, 5G extension to facilitate the next generation roll-out starting next year.
However, this had drawn the ire of the heritage village’s conscientious development forum for being installed without consultation, as it didn’t require planning permission for not exceeding 15m.
“It’s horrendous, people are in shock. It’s up on a hill, it’s very visible and it looks like it’s in the middle of the road,” said Evelyn Clancy of the Durrow Development Forum (DDF).
“Everybody’s very proud of the heritage village … we want broadband, we have no grievance with broadband but there should’ve been consultation with where it goes,” she continued, before offering the possibility of olive branches.
“We had two meetings (with Cignal) this week and one more planned. We had very positive talks yesterday (7 March). We can appreciate their position and they can appreciate ours,” she added.
Originally, the firm had approached The Harps on the Swan Road to install the pole there, but after surveying the GAA grounds, they discovered that tall trees and a 301-year-old church tower in the village were interfering with the signals, which predicated the unilateral move to the Kilkenny Road site and denied the club the possibility of a €30k windfall.
In conversation with the Laois Nationalist, cllr King accepted that planning permission was not needed, but that: “The DFF does an awful lot for the village and for Laois and I think they were badly treated.
“It’s important to have the goodwill of the people in the community, although whether that’ll be enough to move it (the mast) on, I don’t know,” he conceded.
“It’s important to have a little bit of courtesy and respect,” he said, before suggesting the gifty solution.
“It could be accepted then and nothing more about it. I mean, they’ve already shown their hand (€30k to GAA). This’d be a way of saying thanks to the people of Durrow,” he added.
Also, it what seems to be more good news for the village of Durrow in the forthcoming negotiations with Cignal Communications, the company’s CEO Colin Cunningham – a native of Ballylinan – has chosen to engage with the DDF.
Cignal is a young company based in Sandyford in south Dublin. Last November, it announced a €25m investment to install another 300 masts and towers nationwide to add to its 450 which are already in place. When completed, this will represent nearly 20% of the national telecoms infrastructure.