A community protest in Co Kerry against the erection of a telecommunications mast has entered its 38th day.

Access to the 20 metre mast, which is situated in Inch, is being blocked by local protesters who are calling for its removal.

The new mast, which was granted planning permission by Kerry County Council on a site owned by Eir, is situated within 20 metres of a dwelling house.

The Foley family, with the support of local protesters, are demanding the removal of the mast and its relocation at an alternative site.

Planning permission to replace an existing nine metre pole was granted by Kerry County Council on 1 October.

A number of objections were considered during the application process. The council's decision to grant permission was not appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

Under a leasing arrangement with Eir, the new mast structure is owned and controlled by Towercom Ltd and will be used by three mobile providers to provide 5G coverage.

The Foley family say they were shocked when they saw the scale of the new mast when it was erected in early December last.

The Foley family home

Katie Foley says her family are deeply upset by the mast's proximity to their family home.

"It's only 20 metres from us. It’s the first thing we see when we look out the window," she said.

"Throughout Christmas and into the New Year this has been a nightmare. We’ve had to close the family pub because of the stress it’s causing us.

"I can see my parents, they are suffering under serious stress and pressure.

"It’s very unfair that they thought it was suitable to put a structure like that right beside our family home," she said.

The Foley family say they were shocked when they saw the scale of the new mast

Protesters have been camped outside the entrance to the site, both night and day, for the last five weeks.

Temporary shelters have been erected and the protesters are carrying out "patrol shifts" on a rostered basis, preventing access to the site.

Up to 6,000 people have signed a petition demanding the mast’s removal. A number of local councillors and TDs have visited the site.

Colm Bambury, one of the protest leaders, said the community is standing in solidarity with the Foley family and an official complaint has been submitted to Kerry County Council.

"This is an absolute disgrace," he said. "The mast is a monstrosity beside this family's house, it’s 'gallas’ altogether. Nobody here wants it.

"We’re on the Wild Atlantic Way here and Inch Beach is famous the world over for its natural beauty.

"The people of Inch don’t want this eyesore here. Move it to somewhere less obtrusive."

The gate is being manned day and night by protesters

In a statement, Kerry County Council said the matter has been dealt with through the planning process.

However, the council confirmed that it had received an official complaint "in relation to the construction of the mast and compliance with the conditions pertaining to the planning permission authorising the mast".

The council said the matter is at present "under investigation".

A spokesperson for Towercom Ltd said it has temporarily ceased work on the site.

It is awaiting an official response from Kerry County Council in relation to the concerns raised by the local community. Representatives from Towercom Ltd intend to meet the Foley family next week.

Pádraig Ó Seaghdha, who has joined the protest at the site, said the community will continue with its fight.

"The gate here is being manned day and night," he said. "We are not allowing the company in to complete the work.

"Nobody will be left in until there is a satisfactory outcome to this situation. The mast must be moved."