Irish Independent

Gardai question Ferris over arson attack on phone mast

SINN Fein TD Martin Ferris has been interviewed by gardai investigating the sabotage of a controversial mobile phone mast near Fenit in Co Kerry.

Mr Ferris, Kerry North TD and former chairman of the now disbanded anti-mast action committee (AMAC), said he was interviewed by two detectives in the Sinn Fein Office in Tralee.

"They said they were going to talk to members of AMAC and me as the former chairman. I said I took exception to this. The committee was democratically elected at a meeting of around 150 people," Mr Ferris said.

The committee had "legitimately campaigned" against the mast and he found it "disgusting" that the gardai found it necessary to question the committee. The knock-on effect was intimidation, Mr Ferris said.

Det Sgt John Brennan of Tralee gardai said yesterday that up to 100 people had been interviewed in the Garda investigation, which was widespread and continuing. Gardai were keeping "an open mind", Det Sgt Brennan said.

The Meteor Mobile Communications Ltd mast was granted permission after the telecommunications company appealed a refusal by Kerry County Council to An Bord Pleanala.

There had been widespread protest and a campaign in north Kerry against the mast located between Tralee and Fenit which overlooks the coastline. A large number of objections were received by Kerry County Council.

The committee's campaign was directed at trying to influence Kerry County Council and An Bord Pleanala and ended after the appeals board granted permission early in September, Mr Ferris said.

Although there was huge disappointment at the decision, a High Court challenge was ruled out as this would have been too expensive. The committee disbanded and any money in the kitty was given to charity, Mr Ferris said.

He felt the mast had been imposed on people against their wishes but did not condone anybody taking the law into their own hands.

The attack on the mast communications cabin at Ballygarron, The Spa, took place on the night of November 31-December 1, before it went into operation. The damage is estimated at in excess of €100,000. Gardai believe petrol was used to start a blaze which destroyed communications equipment after the mast cabin door was forced open.

Anne Lucey

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