asked the Minister for Defence the number of radioactive fall-out shelters erected in the country; if a shelter has been erected at any particular place in the city of Dublin or suburbs; if he will state what plans there are, and what schemes are ready to be put into action at once should radioactive fall-out occur; if sites for shelters have been examined or selected at Parnell Square, Stephen's Green, Trinity College and High Street; and what is the present radioactive fall-out in Ireland.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Building of Fall-out Shelters.
The Deputy's Question could be related to radioactive fall-out resulting from—
(a) nuclear explosions in wartime, or
(b) test nuclear explosions in peacetime.
If the Question relates to the former, the information requested by the Deputy is as follows:—
(1) No fall-out shelters have been constructed either in the city of Dublin, its suburbs or elsewhere in this country. It is, however, a comparatively simple matter for householders, employers, etc., themselves to provide, at short notice, an effective and adequate refuge room in their own houses and premises at comparatively little cost. A Home Protection Handbook containing (amongst other things) instructions as to the manner in which householders and others could provide these refuge rooms has been drafted and will be issued when the Government deems it appropriate to do so.
(2) A civil defence plan to cope with a civil defence situation, including particularly the hazard of radioactive fall-out, has been prepared. This plan is aimed at having a control and operational system ranging from a National Civil Defence Control down to the lower reaches of existing local authority administrative areas, viz. Dispensary Districts and even townlands. The plan has already been communicated to the Local Authorities who are at present actively endeavouring to ensure its implementation by the nomination of persons as heads of services and the enrolment of the large number of volunteers required—a matter to which every citizen should give serious thought.
Pending the implementation of this plan in an effective way, a special interim plan which would be less effective but which would nevertheless be a very useful standby, has been prepared to meet a civil defence situation, including particularly the hazard of radioactive fall-out, which could arise with very little advance warning. This plan consists of a series of improvisations aimed at making the fullest possible use of the Civil Defence resources available now, and linking them up with existing organisations such as Óglaigh na hÉireann, An Garda Síochána, certain other State Departments and semi-State organisations and Voluntary Aid Societies. The plan envisages that warning of the imminence of war, and/or danger from fall-out resulting from hostilities, would be given through the medium of the radio and the press, and that suitable advice would be given to the public, through the same channels, as to the steps they should take to protect themselves and their families, particularly in relation to fall-out.
Until such times as An Cór Breathnadóirí (The Observer Corps)— whose primary function will be the monitoring on a nation-wide basis of radioactivity from nuclear explosions— has been developed, responsibility for limited monitoring will be undertaken by District Officers of An Garda Síochána assisted by such Civil Defence Volunteers as are available. This monitoring will be done with radiac instruments already distributed throughout the State and the results reported to and co-ordinated by Army Commands. Appropriate instructions for the public would follow. In this plan the existing Civil Defence staff of the Department of Defence, both administrative and technical, would have an important role.
(3) Having regard to the situation already outlined in this reply, it has not so far been deemed necessary to examine or select sites for fall-out shelters at any of the places mentioned by the Deputy or elsewhere.
If the Deputy's Question relates to radioactive fall-out from test explosions in peacetime or other peacetime uses of nuclear energy, I should point out that my functions in this regard do not include the detection and notification of radioactivity in the atmosphere or on the ground.
Can the Minister say if the erection of a shelter anywhere is in contemplation?