Northern Ireland

Youths not responsible for 5G mast arson say west Belfast residents

A 5G mast was deliberately set alight on Monday

Damaged caused to a 5G mast at Distillery Street in west Belfast. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN

Objectors to 5G mobile phone masts could be behind an arson attack in west Belfast, residents have claimed.

A mast was set alight in Distillery Street in the early hours of Monday.

The area has been plagued by anti-social behaviour in the past with youths using derelict land in the cul-de-sac as a gathering point for anti social behaviour and anti internment bonfires.

However, residents told The Irish News they don’t believe youths loitering in the area at the weekend were behind the recent vandalism.

“There were young ones there last night, but it was early on,” she said. “The fire started after midnight after they moved on. The mast went up so quick I’d say whoever was behind it knew what they were doing. It didn’t look like something a group of kids did.

“I’ve heard about those 5G theories and couldn’t say for certain it wasn’t them. I would say it seems to have been started by older ones like adults. Maybe it could be linked to a protest. Either that or something just hit it and it went up.

“There is CCTV over the bridge there so I’d say those responsible will be caught on it.”

Damaged caused to a 5G mast at Distillery Street in west Belfast. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN

Another said: “This isn’t the first time this has happened. I don’t know if its linked or just trouble starting up again with the good weather, but I don’t think the ones hanging about last night were behind it.

“They were younger and didn’t seem to be from here. I don’t know what time they were here to but they were gone when the fire started.”

Police are appealing for information after the “deliberate ignition” of the mast.

Sergeant Peter Tew said: “We are treating this fire, which caused extensive damage to this mast which remains upright, as arson.”

When asked if a line of investigation involved 5G conspiracy theorists, a PSNI spokesperson said they would not comment further on operational matters.

Several 5G masts were set alight on the Donegall Road, Owenvarragh Park, Monagh Bypass, Springfield Road and Stewartstown Road over a four hour period in July last year.

Police said at the time that they are “investigating a potential link between these incidents”.

West Belfast councillor Paul Doherty said: “Disappointingly, this is not the first attack of this nature we have seen in this area. All that has been achieved is an inconvenience to the people who live here, the vast majority of whom do not support this.

“I would urge the people behind this to see sense and stop engaging in what is no more than an attack on the local community. Whatever the motivation for this incident, it is clearly misguided and amounts to pointless vandalism.”