Below is one of the broadsheet reports of our national mast protest at Toomevara last Saturday, organised by B.E.S.T. (Better Environment and Safer Telecommunications). However, the numbers were vastly greater than the 300 mentioned toward end of article.
Following the actual protest march along the N7 (which runs through the town), invited speakers addressed the crowd outside the town hall. Among these was well-known disability rights campaigner and MEP (Ind) Kathy Sinnott. She acknowledges her full support of our EHS campaign for recognition and equally acknowledges that this physical disability is aggravated severely by radiation from masts. She said that she and the British MEP Dr. Caroline Lucas are committed to supporting our cause in Brussels. The primary objective, she pointed out, must be recognition of EHS and following from that would come acknowledgement of multiple illnesses caused by the same radiative source. She suggested that electrosensitives in Ireland should select among themselves a representative best example and then they should bring this case to her and she in turn would bring it to her committee in Brussels.
Michael Shine, one of the five Co. Mayo protestors against Shell Gas Corporation who spent months last year in a Dublin jail for their conviction that they had a democratic and fundamental right to safeguard their properties and health from being overun by Shell Gas, was another invited speaker. Incidentally, they won; Shell has had to reconsider its options. (Google "Rossport Five" for further info and the ballad composed to honour their David versus Goliath struggle).
Interestingly, the following day, in his regular weekly health column in the Sunday Independent, Dr. Maurice Guernet choose to mock the reality of electrohypersensitivity, Sweden's recognition of EHS and derided Sweden's humane protection of its disabled citizens. Dr. Guernet is editor of the Irish Medical Journal and c. five years ago refused I.E.R.V.N.'s (Irish Electromagnetic Radiation Victims Network) request to have its support association listed in the IMJ. I have pasted in below Dr. Guernet's satiric article on electromagnetic sensitivity. He appears to be totally unaware that the Irish Doctors Environmental Association (I.D.E.A.) has openly acknowledged on its website (see "IDEA Position on Electromagnetic Radiation" at: http://www.ideaireland.org/emr.htm
) its full support of our disability.
Should any of our supporters wish to educate Dr. Gueret on the reality of EHS and the scientific literature which supports our conviction that it is directly caused by EMR, his email address (posted on the internet) is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Best, Imelda, Cork.
IRISH INDEPENDENT, MONDAY 15 MAY, 2006 PRINT ED. P. 3
"MAST PROTESTORS BLAME GOVERNMENT FOR HEALTH PROBLEMS
[by] Eugene Hogan
Mobile phone mast opponents have laid the blame for health problems they claim are associated with the masts squarely on the Government's shoulders. At a weekend rally in Toomevara, Co. Tipperary, the failure of the Government to introduce proper regulations for the mobile phone industry was identified as the biggest single problem. "Mobile phone companies will do what they are told to do, but it is the Government that we see is at fault for our problems," said John Cummins, chairperson of Better Environment & Safer Telecommunications. "At the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications in June last year, Deputy Noel O'Flynn said that there are people in Ireland suffering ill-health because of their proximity to phone masts. "Some 11 recommendations were made and we want all those recommendations implemented - but no progress is being made." Among the recommendations were that a panel of medical experts be set up to investigate individual cases where people living close to mobile phone masts are complaining of ill-health. The co-use of masts by phone companies was also recommended instead of the current situation where each company establishes its own mast. Another recommendation involved a set distance for masts from schools and hospitals. "Really, nothing tangible has been done by Government, despite those recommendations, so we really see a lack of willingness to address this problem," Mr Cummins told reporters. Some 300 protesters, well short of the 1,000 anticipated, turned up at the demonstration, causing tailbacks on the N7 route."
SUNDAY INDEPENDENT 14 May, 2006
SECTION: LIFE [MAGAZINE] PAGE 41
"RUDE HEALTH: HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU HAVE 'ELECTROMAGNETIC SENSITIVITY'? WHEN APPLIANCES MAKE YOU 'TINGLY'AND 'WARM'. MAURICE GUERET EXPOUNDS ON WHEN TOASTERS ATTACK
I'm old enough to remember a time when we were regularly lectured to by Babycham socialists about what a wonderful caring nation the Swedes are and how well we little Fir Bolg [an ancient Irish tribe]would do to emulate Viking society. All social ills could be eradicated if decent citizens gave up the bulk of their taxable earnings and allowed the government decide how best to lob its money hand over fist at the ills of society. At the time, the idea seemed as attractive as a late night with Agnetha and Frida. However, with the passage of time these noble aspirations bear more resemblance to a quiet night in with Benny and Bjorn. Sweden is not really at the lefty races any more and has been overtaken in left-wing lore by cigar-toting Cuba. Everyone's favourite Nobel-prize hosts and Eurovision singers are struggling to keep pace with the massive volume of illness and disability claims that a society overgenerous in benefits attracts. It was reported recently in the medical press that the Stockholm chapter of Hell's Angel motorcyclists had one of the highest rates of depression in the whole world. But the mood changed when the fraud squad were alerted by social services to the fact that just one doctor was doing all the diagnosing and had a full waiting room of hairy mollies looking for more bike time. Sweden is also one of very few countries in the world to recognise a phemomenon called electromagnetic sensitivity. Now, this is a newfangled disease in which patients describe vague symptoms that are attributed to everything from electrical gadgets to magnetic powerlines. EMS is categorised almost everywhere else as "medically unexplained" - code for the fact that most self-respecting doctors do not believe it actually exists. Not so in Sweden, where all reports of tingling, numb body parts and warm feelings are blamed on the toaster, kettle or whatever other household appliance is close at hand. The authorities even have a national support scheme to assist sufferers in their homes, their workplaces and -who knows? - perhaps on their motorbikes too. Belief in the existence of a medical condition called electromagnetic sensitivity is not peculiarly Swedish - in fact, support groups and internet forums exist across the world. A team from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London had no difficulty recently when recruiting "sensitive" people to discern whether pulsing signals from GSM mobile phones might be the root cause of their medical problems. One hundred and twenty souls were rounded up - 60 of them were self-confessed mobile-phone hypersensitives who got headache-like symptoms within 20 minutes of taking a call, and the other 60 were the control group, who had no such problems. The design of the study, reported in the BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL on April 15 last, was fascinating but might cause some readers to suffer vague symptoms if I go into it here. Suffice it to say that it failed to show that any symptoms are associated with mobile-phone radiation. The sensitive group had more severe symptoms than the control group, but the symptoms occurred with precisely the same frequency during sham exposure, when all participants were tricked into believing they were being exposed to a continuous wave signal when they weren't. This research is the latest in a steady stream of studies which found no differences between active exposure or sham exposure to electromagnetic fields. The authors suggest that psychological factors may be at work and suggest a possibility for behavioural therapy rather than avoidance of modern life, which has to date been the mainstay of treatment. And speaking of mobile phones, it is interesting to note that Sweden is also the country which three years ago raised concerns that mobile phones raised the risk of high-grade brain tumours known as astrocytomas. A further study in the same issue of the BMJ mentioned above suggests that, in the short and medium term, there is no increased risk of mobile-phone users developing common brain tumours. It should be stated that some of the funding for this particular study was provided by mobile-phone companies, but the science behind it looks fairly sound, and while we can offer no guarantees about long-term effects of mobile-phone use, the evidence of the doomsday brigade looks rather shaky. What we do know about mobile phones is that there are one billion of them in the world today. One is in my pocket as I write and four more defunct models are somehwere upstairs in my attic. Their use in cars, hand-held or indeed hands-free, is an established accident risk. They are an intrusive, non-essential part of all of our lives and are every bit as difficult to give up as cigarettes. Those who manufacture them say it is good to talk. Those who cannot work in peace any more because the blasted things never stop ringing might disagree. Last year, during a short bout of insomnia, I convinced myself that I could only sleep at night when my mobile phone was switched off. Perhaps I need therapy. Or then again, maybe I should throw my Swedish model out the car window.
MAURICE GUERET IS EDITOR OF THE 'IRISH MEDICAL DIRECTORY'