25 July 2002 Edition

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Maskey says the future isn't Orange

Belfast Mayor and Sinn Féin councillor for the Laganbank ward of South Belfast, Alex Maskey, took the party's campaign against the siting of phone masts in built up areas to the Ballynafeigh area of the Upper Ormeau Road last Wednesday 17 July.

The Sinn Féin councillor, accompanied by party colleagues, handed out leaflets to passers by informing them that the phone company Orange has plans to erect a mast at the site of Ballynafeigh Orange Hall and are presently involved in a process of consultation in relation to this.

Outlining the party's position, which is that masts should not be erected within 500 metres of any dwelling, residence, hospital, school or commercial property, Maskey ssaid he had written to Orange to inform them of Sinn Féin's opposition to the mast.

Maskey pointed out that until recently, such masts whad been automatically given the go ahead for planning permission by Belfast City Council, no matter how many councillors objected. Despite this, Sinn Féin councillors, as a rule, had objected to each mast.

"April 2002 saw new legislation passed by the Assembly which will give councillors the power to scrutinise and possibly reject planning permission for masts," said Maskey. "While we support this legislation as a positive move, it is our opinion that it does not go far enough - it does not come into force until August 2002 and cannot overturn decisions made before this date."

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