Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Ceisteanna (145)

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

221 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the construction work being carried out by the British Army at Forkhill Barracks, County Armagh, resulting in the erection of a large mast which is visible across north Louth; if he will raise the matter with the British Home Office to ascertain the purpose of this mast and obtain specific technical information regarding radiation from it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3669/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Foreign)

On 30 June 2003, the British authorities informed my officials, through the offices of the British-Irish intergovernmental secretariat, that the British Army was undertaking work on a new communications mast within the Forkhill military base in County Armagh. They advised us that the immediate purpose of the new mast is twofold: first, to replace two older masts at the base and thereby improve local communications for the PSNI, the British Army and also the emergency services, and second, to safeguard the security of the base itself by improving the monitoring of its perimeter.

Immediately following this notification by the British side, I directed my officials to raise our concerns about the refurbishment of security infrastructure at the Forkhill and Crosslieve bases with the relevant British authorities. I also personally raised this matter with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at the British-Irish intergovernmental Conference in Iveagh House on 18 September 2003. I have directed my officials to obtain from the British Government an assessment of the environmental impacts of the new communications mast, with specific regard to radiation emissions. I will contact the Deputy directly when my Department is in receipt of this assessment.