Ceisteanna-Questions. Oral Answers. - Declaration on the Environment.

Richard Bruton

Question:

2 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Taoiseach whether it is still his intention that a statement on the environment would be agreed at the Summit meeting of the EC Heads of Government in June; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

As Deputies will be aware, I have made the Environment a priority item during Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the European Communities. It is my intention to have a Declaration on the Environment agreed at next week's meeting of the European Council. I envisage that this declaration will cover a wide range of issues and will lead to an acceleration of effort by the Community to deal with problems besetting its own environment and to promote concerted action to deal with global problems.

Has the Taoiseach made an effort to refer to the issue of nuclear safety in his environmental statement?As he probably knows, it is being handled by the club of Energy Ministers at the moment who effectively veto any realistic moves in this area. Does he feel there is scope for Ireland in its role as President to raise the level of concern about nuclear safety through this environment statement?

There is, I believe, a role for Ireland in that area and we are following that up, but I prefer to keep it separate from the Declaration on the Environment at this stage.

Does the Taoiseach not agree that as long as the issue of nuclear safety is handled by a club of Energy Ministers, more than half of whom are committed to nuclear capacity, this issue will not get the sort of attention non-nuclear countries such as Ireland believe it deserves? Does he not also agree that this issue has to be considered at Heads of State level if we want to get real movement in this area?

I have been doing that and I should like to point out to the Deputy that the disclosure of the appalling situation in regard to nuclear installations in Central and Eastern Europe has brought a new dimension to the problem which I think has concentrated people's minds a bit more than perhaps was the case up to now.

We have concerns about nuclear safety closer to home which the Taoiseach——

I know. I mentioned this addition because I think there has been unanimous concern in the House about this issue and the disclosure of the appalling situation in Central and Eastern Europe has added a new dimension of concern.

Question No. 3.

Does the Taoiseach——

I want to make progress on other questions also.

Does the Taoiseach not agree that we will not get any movement on the transport of nuclear fuels to Sellafield for processing or on the emissions of low level waste from the energy Council where those responsibilities lie? Will he take an initiative on the Sellafield issue through his good offices——

We are having repetition.

As I have told Deputies, I raised the question of adequate nuclear inspection during the course of my tour.

Question No. 3, please.

Why did the Minister for the Environment forget about it for so long?

I did not. Obviously the Deputy was not listening to what I said over the weekend.

The Minister for the Environment is doing a magnificent job——

Thank you.

He is doing a good job in Castlebar.

——and is recognised throughout Europe as doing a good job.