Cork County Council is to seek expert advice and ask ComReg officials to address it after concerns were raised about the safety of 5G digital cellular networks.
A lengthy debate ensued in County Hall after Cllrs Karen Coakley and Kevin Murphy said they had been contacted by many of their constituents who had expressed concerns about potential health risks which would be associated with the roll-out of the next generation of communications technology.
Cllr Coakley said people were worried the system could produce harmful levels of radiation. She claimed there were several studies underway, including one by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which raised a number of questions about 5G.
“We all want new technology, but at what cost?” she asked.
Cll Murphy said: “We need a debate on this. It's important for us that we're informed. I can't ascertain who is right or wrong. In March 2019, 29 scientists from 18 countries met and said there was a substantial increase in tumours in children and teenagers. It takes about 20 to 25 years for this radiation to gestate (into cancers)."
Cllr Alan Coleman said he was concerned the level of microwavable radiation in the proposed 5G network wasn't warranted.
“Where would ComReg, the regulatory authority, stand on this? They seem to be very silent on this. We don't have enough information and I welcome any report we could get to clarify this,” Cllr Coleman said.
Cllr Paul Hayes said he had attended several public meetings held by residents who were concerned about 5G and proposed that ComReg be invited into the council chamber to talk to them about it.
Cllr Gearoid Murphy maintained there was no study which comprehensively showed that 5G was harmful.
“It has great potential for rural Ireland to deliver high-speed broadband. It's all lower in frequency than infrared waves we use to control our television sets,” Cllr Murphy said.
Cllr Cathal Rasmussen wasn't convinced. “There are huge concerns. We need proper reports on it and we need to have a proper debate,” he said.
Cllr Marcia D'Alton claimed there have been peer review studies which appeared to show neurological changes in the brain due to mobile phone use.
Cllr John O'Sullivan said councillors were custodians of any concerns the public had and needed to find out more on the issue.
“To roll out 5G would increase the number of masts we have significantly. It won't be needed anyway in a few years time with fibre-optic broadband being rolled out throughout the country,” he said.