Private Members' Business. - Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty: Motion.

I move:

That Dáil Éireann, in recognising the important role played by the late Mr. Frank Aiken, TD, the then Fianna Fáil Minister for Foreign Affairs, in initiating the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) over 25 years ago,

—contents that the Treaty, which is due for renewal and extension in April of this year, should only be extended for five-year periods with a set of stated goals pronounced at the beginning of each period and

—believes that negotiations must be put in train to devise a new system for global denuclearisation which should include:

(1) halting all nuclear weapons production, modernisation and deployment.

(2) agreement on a schedule to achieve zero nuclear weapons,

(3) agreement on and implementation of a complete ban on the separation, production and use of all plutonium and highly enriched uranium,

(4) the establishment of an effective agency to monitor and control all weapons-usable nuclear materials,

(5) the establishment of a register by which the location of all weapons and nuclear materials could be recorded and monitored,

(6) agreement on and implementation of a total nuclear test ban and

(7) an end to the promotion of nuclear energy by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

I wish to share my time with Deputy Eoin Ryan.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I am confident this motion reflects the views of all our people. This April, with negotiations on renewal and extension of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty, 1970, taking place, Ireland has an opportunity to make a bold and radical statement and devise a new system for global denuclearisation. It is appropriate that Ireland takes the opportunity as it did in the past and our aim must be nothing less than a nuclear free world.

Twenty-five years ago, following the very important role played by a former Fianna Fáil Minister for Foreign Affairs, the late Mr. Frank Aiken, the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty was signed. By his strong advocacy of this international treaty at the United Nations in New York. Frank Aiken helped make our modern world a little more safe and more likely that we would have a world to hand on to our children and our children's children. This treaty was not a seven day wonder but the product of a campaign begun in 1958 with the publication of his disengagement plan for world peace and the assumption of a policy independent of the main powers which won the confidence and support of most of the small nations of the time.

It was a unique and farseeing contribution, coming as it did before the Berlin Wall, the Cuban missile crisis and at a time when the superpowers were locked in the Cold War confrontation. It was frighteningly clear to all that the life of the world was ebbing away to the ticking of the nuclear clock. Aiken's policy on nuclear non-proliferation has been a continuous fundamental of Irish foreign policy since that time. Under the terms of the treaty on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, those states who held nuclear weapons agreed to get rid of their nuclear weapons while those states without such weapons agreed to give up the right to manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons. The five states officially recognised by the treaty as holding nuclear weapons were China, France, the United Kingdom, the USSR and the USA and 167 countries are signatories to the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty.

For 25 years the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty has served as the most widely supported arms control measure in history. It has unquestionably served as a global norm of non-proliferation against the possibility of nuclear holocaust. Hold out states have to assume the burden that that status entails and constantly explain their reasons for staying outside the treaty. We have seen the success of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty: there are five acknowledged nuclear weapon states, the same as when the treaty was open for signature, a tribute to the treaty's moral weight to command worldwide non-proliferation of these weapons. Each of these five countries is a signatory to the agreement meaning that all five nuclear powers are committed to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament.

As well, in the spirit of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty, there has been a number of bilateral agreements and unilateral declarations such as the SALT and STAR talks between the USA and USSR and the abandonment by South Africa of its existing nuclear weapons programme. Super powers such as Russia and the United States have made strong commitments and have taken action to dramatically reduce their nuclear arsenal. Now, 50 years after Hiroshima, the nuclear clock has been turned back from the final and irrevocable midnight darkness of the nuclear destruction.

We live in a world that has seen the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Cold War has been consigned to the history books but does this mean that we can afford to be complacent that the battle to rid the world of these disastrous contrivances is over? Sadly, this is far from being the case.

The Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty was intended only as an interim agreement while nuclear disarmament took place, with signatory states agreeing to review the treaty every five years. It is now a quarter of a century since the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty was signed. As Fianna Fáil spokesman for Foreign Affairs I take the opportunity to participate in building on the work Frank Aiken helped initiate. The Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty Review and Extension Conference will be held in New York in April-May this year. With this conference imminent, the international community has an opportunity to do something positive. We have an opportunity to build a nuclear free world for the 21st century and ensure greater protection for all our people against a nuclear nightmare.

At the conference, Government representatives will be asked to extend the treaty indefinitely or for an additional period or periods subject to the consideration of all the signatories. Those states with nuclear weapons are calling for the NPT to be extended indefinitely because, they argue, the agreement provides an effective block to nuclear proliferation. However, to do so alone would be to lose a valuable opportunity for the world and its people. Our target should be far more ambitious as outlined in the motion.

Many non-nuclear states, together with Greenpeace, believe that an indefinite extension of the NPT would make permanent an agreement which has only begun to free the world from the nuclear threat. We live in a different world from that of Frank Aiken and his contemporaries. In some ways it is no less dangerous but because of incidents surrounding places such as Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Windscale-Sellafield, we should be wiser and more chastened. We owe a great deal to the moral obligations which the NPT has imposed on the world community but we must acknowledge the major problems which remain. Some countries in regions of major proliferation concern, such as the Middle East and South-East Asia, still remain outside the NPT. A number of signatory states are guilty of non-compliance with NPT obligations.

There is also the risk of illegal access to nuclear materials arising from the break-up of the former Soviet Union and the transportation of nuclear materials across vast distances for storage and disposal. The German customs officials seized nuclear materials which were stolen and smuggled from the former USSR. While we welcome these seizures we are forced to inquire how much material has been successfully smuggled and in whose hands it ended up. It is not unreasonable to say that border and customs patrols are only successful in detecting about 5 per cent or 10 per cent of contraband and such items are less lethal than nuclear materials. It is fair to assume, although frightening to do so, that nuclear materials have been successfully smuggled from the former states of the USSR. It is equally frightening to think that, rather than having five nuclear powers, the world is subject to the Moscow Mafia having control of and moving nuclear material around the world.

Effective action on the elimination of the nuclear threat against humanity is now more urgent then ever. If anything, rather than express satisfaction with the status quo we should try to build on the protection offered by the NPT. Political uncertainties threaten to place nuclear arsenals in hands for which they were never meant. Despite the treaty we are all well aware that nations other than the original five nuclear powers have acquired the means to build and have built nuclear weaponry. We are all too well aware that those countries which hold nuclear weapons have developed their arsenals to achieve far greater destruction than they were capable of in 1970.

The proposals made by Frank Aiken during the 1960s represented a radical departure as the smaller countries of the world forced a moral imperative on the great nuclear powers of the day. The challenge before us is to initiate a radical procedure which will lead not only to the disengagement and destruction of all nuclear weaponry but also to an agreement which will stop further construction of nuclear power plants and phase out all such existing facilities. Some will say that is too radical and pie in the sky but we have seen in recent years that the nuclear power industry and plants are neither safe, instanced by Chernobyl, economic or commercially viable, evidenced by the privatisation policies in the UK. The nuclear industry there could not be privatised because decommissioning had not been costed and taken into account in calculating the cost of nuclear power. Decommissioning is a huge element in many plants. On the west coast of the UK many of the plants which pose a major threat to us are old and need decommissioning. The cost of decommissioning is such it proves nuclear power is not commercially viable and it is not unreasonable to say we should phase out existing facilities and stop further construction of nuclear power plants.

Many non-aligned countries like Ireland, longstanding advocates of the abolition of nuclear weapons, have sought to use the opportunity presented by the forthcoming negotiations to increase the pressure for accelerated nuclear disarmament. An indefinite extension rather than institutionalising what has been achieved will be seen as forfeiting what small leverage they have over states with nuclear weapons. The international community should extend the treaty on the basis of clear, quantifiable and verifiable commitments being made and genuine and achievable goals being established towards nuclear non-proliferation and elimination. The treaty should be extended for five year periods with a set of stated goals pronounced at the beginning of each period. A simple review process by official mandarins in their gilded halls is not the radical step which is required. It is not what the people want. They have been educated and learned the lessons of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. They want to see the next major step to nuclear disarmament brought forward.

Negotiations must be put in train to devise a new system for global denuclearisation which should include (1) halting all nuclear weapons production, modernisation and deployment; (2) agreement on a schedule to achieve zero nuclear weapons; (3) agreement on implementation of a complete ban on the separation, production and use of all plutonium and highly enriched uranium; (4) the establishment of an effective agency to monitor and control all weapons using nuclear materials; (5) the establishment of a register in which the location of all weapons and nuclear materials could be recorded and monitored; (6) agreement on the implementation of a total nuclear test ban treaty and (7) an end to the promotion of nuclear energy by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The scientific community must recognise that humanity does not want the production of nuclear material. To produce it for reasons of national wealth and security should simply be regarded as grandiose, foolish and dangerous.

It is hardly extreme to claim that the whole of the nuclear industry is suspect. Any procedure which, by accident or misuse, can create an impact such as that of Chernobyl must be taken seriously for the dangerous threat it represents. There must be no further international promotion of an industry which can create a Sellafield or Chernobyl; rather, there must be effective international monitoring of these nuclear stations and the phasing out of those in existence. No longer is national security an adequate shield behind which to hide in the face of the type of international catastrophe to which these materials can lead. No state should be allowed to resist the moral pressure exerted by the international community in this respect.

I have mentioned Chernobyl a number of times because its lessons are too important ever to be forgotten. We have seen the children of the area whose horrendous injuries and continuing suffering resulted from that incident. The community of Skerries in north Country Dublin, in my constituency, have welcomed children from that area over a number of years, as have the people of the Cork region, in addition to their being looked after in various hospitals here. It is a very salutary lesson to us all that minor steps are not sufficient; we must be radical, like a former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Frank Aiken, in his time.

The forthcoming Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference to be held in New York from 17 April to 12 May next will afford the world an opportunity of taking a great leap forward from the nightmare of nuclear destruction. A new treaty must be drawn up to provide effective international monitoring and no country should be allowed to stand in the way of independent international monitoring of its nuclear industry. There must be an end to the creation of nuclear materials and a treaty drawn up to provide for a test ban. Why test for something one is committed to dismantle or dispose of?

I mentioned independent international monitoring. In this respect I am well aware that successive Governments here have endeavoured — as I did when Minister for Energy — to persuade member states of the European Union, the EC as it was then, to agree to a system of independent international monitoring. The very strong nuclear lobby of the British and French at the time, and to a lesser extent the Germans, had their faces firmly set against allowing any inspectorate or monitoring outside their nuclear industries on their territories. That attitude can no longer be accepted by the international community, that type of "little state" approach, when the danger of a nuclear holocaust arising from an accident at one of these nuclear plants crosses all frontiers.

The promotion of this dangerous, nuclear industry, the transport of dangerous materials and the continued use of nuclear power must cease. It is reasonable to ask why the Irish people should be subjected to the dangers from ships carrying nuclear waste through neighbouring waters for reprocessing and disposal. People want protection from this menace and our Government must seek that protection for our people, for all peoples worldwide, particularly at international fora such as that in New York. Why should this island be subjected to the threat posed us from reprocessing and dumping at Sellafield, in caverns beneath the sea, or to the equal threat posed by the movement of shipping in the narrow Irish sea? Why should we be subjected to such threat because of the British Government's commitment to the expansion of Sellafield, the fact that they made a decision, poured in money for that purpose, stating they must continue to use it despite tha fact that, from the date of their original decisions, world attitudes to nuclear processing had changed? Why should we, on this side of the Irish Sea, be subjected to that threat? Should we not shout about that threat at every international forum, clearly indicating how we feel about it?

It is my firm belief that only from neutral countries such as ours, whose interests have not become entangled in the proliferation of nuclear materials, can such proposals emanate. A former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Frank Aiken said:

I am neither pro-British nor pro-American, anti-British or anti-American foreign policy. I am just pro-Irish and anti-nuclear suicide, pro-effective and reliably financed measures for peacekeeping forces in which the small states have a critically important role to play, pro the peaceful settlement of disputes within and between small states, anti-small states becoming the battle ground between great powers for the extension of their military power and influence or economic domination....

Ireland, in its neutrality, possesses an integrity and honesty which allows it to seek such changes within the international community as it is well recognised that our only self-interest is that of being able to live and prosper in peace alongside our neighbours. Our neutrality is a positive feature of our foreign policy, affording us a unique, independent voice and a high moral position. As spokesman for my party on Foreign Affairs, I should like to place a marker that this conscientious declaration of our neutrality has always been the policy of this State. In these challenging times I see every reason for Irish, European Union and international interests being best served by the continuation of such a policy.

While recognising that all treaties represent a compromise, moral pressure must be exerted to ensure the safety of this globe for ourselves and our children. Ireland is in a unique position to provide the leadership for that moral pressure. At the root of my proposal is seeking the renewal of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at five-yearly intervals, specifying firm goals and objectives, to ensure that we achieve global denuclearisation. I believe the European Union intends to approach this treaty on the basis of joint action. However, I must remind the House that, through a former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Frank Aiken, Ireland took an independent, forthright stand on this issue once before and should do so at this time. Effective action to halt and reverse the nuclear threat, based on a set of established goals, is more urgent than ever.

I call on the Government to grasp the opportunity presented by this forthcoming conference to ensure our world is rendered safe and that every possible effort is undertaken to ensure that the nuclear genie is confined to its bottle.

I acknowledge the Government amendment in the name of the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs to the positive motion tabled in my name on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party. In its six items listed they have covered many of the seven in my motion but endorsing the approach called for in the Government's amendment, in support of the indefinite extension of the treaty, does not represent the radical step or stance that we, as an independent, non-nuclear, neutral member state within the European Union, should be taking. Instead we should take a positive, radical approach as suggested in my motion.

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this important debate and to congratulate Deputy Ray Burke on having tabled the motion. It is 25 years since the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty was signed. The then Fianna Fáil Minister for Foreign Affairs, the late Frank Aiken, took the initiative and put forward a resolution calling for the negotiation of a treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. What emerged is now known as NPT. Ours was the first State to ratify the treaty when it was signed in 1968. Since then 167 nations signed the treaty. The NPT is still an important part of global security helping to curtail the spread of nuclear weapons. Soon, a conference in New York will decide how long the NPT will be extended. It is important that the treaty be strengthened where necessary and fine-tuned to today's changed circumstances.

The most important part of the motion is where it states the treaty should only be extended for five year periods with a set of stated goals pronounced at the beginning of each period. It is vital that Ireland presses for such changes. Ireland has a long history of supporting international efforts to eliminate nuclear arms. Our policy should be based on an extension of the NPT for additional fixed periods of five years. After each five year period a review conference could be held. This year's conference could consider the mechanism and conditions under which this could be done. Greenpeace has rightly stated that this could be done by linking further extensions to progress towards achieving other crucial non-proliferation measures. The parties could then decide to call a halt, if it was considered that inadequate progress had been made. Satisfactory progress would ensure the further automatic extension of the treaty. In this way Governments anxious to extend the NPT would be encouraged to drop those measures in a timely way and the task of those anxious to increase the effectiveness of the entire non-proliferation regime would be made considerably easier. An indefinite or very long extension would considerably reduce the prospect of the evolution of an effective non-proliferation regime.

I gather that approximately 20 countries indicated their opposition to an indefinite and unconditional extension of the NPT. Some of those countries are Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Zimbabwe. As Greenpeace rightly points out, the April conference should not be between North and South, but between nuclear and non-nuclear states. Ireland should take a lead in his area as it did before and push for significant changes in the NPT.

Ireland has always supported the case for nuclear disarmament. It is important that we continue to argue that case within the European Union and the UN. The European Union, the world's biggest economic power, has an enormous capacity to influence world affairs. Using that power and wielding that influence for a saner and more equitable system must be part of its foreign policy. We must use our influence with our partners in Europe to strengthen the treaty and, in doing so, prove that a small nation within the European Union has a significant influence on important matters such as this. We must also bring to the United Nations radical proposals to tackle nuclear weapons and address the risk from nuclear power plants. We have a good and honourable history within the United Nations and have been seen to represent smaller nations. I ask the Tánaiste to ensure that following the April conference that will remain the position and we will be seen to take a lead in this matter. We live under the shadow of an accident-prone power plant at Sellafield.

The Irish people, for good reason, do not trust the British nuclear industry. BNFL's safety record leaves much to be desired. In the 1957 fire at Windscale, now known as Sellafield, as much as 20,000 cories of iodine and 20 cories of polonium-210 were released into the atmosphere.

The public remembers the arguments of the world nuclear industry when it assured us, in advance of the Chernobyl disaster, that the use of nuclear energy was safe. The efforts of groups working with the children of Chernobyl have brought home to us the stark consequences of the radiation emitted when things went wrong at that power station. Now the proponents of nuclear energy and BNFL seek to distance themselves from the Chernobyl disaster putting all the blame on the lack of Russian safety standards. All accidents at nuclear plants have been due ultimately to human error. No advances in technology can eliminate the imperfections of a human component. The lethal potential of nuclear energy, of its raw material and its by-products means that one mistake in its handling can have horrific consequences.

BNFL's safety record does not inspire confidence in those of us who are most exposed to such horrific potential less than 100 miles from the Sellafield plant. One need only look at the support given to candidates who campaigned on this issue in the last European elections to know how the public feel about it and their fear of the threat from Sellafield, the new THORP plant and nuclear power plants in general. The United Nations and the European Union must take account of the real threat to life.

Ireland enjoys none of the benefits of nuclear power and even if we did, they would not justify the risks to which we have been exposed. Our concerns are shared by the Government of the Isle of Man and by groups opposing nuclear processing in Cumbria. Many international authorities say THORP is a legacy of the post-war nuclear culture and have questioned the economics of plutonium reprocessing put forward by BNFL.

Many of my colleagues in the European Parliament, including Niall Andrews, Jim Fitzsimons and the Green Party MEPs, have raised concerns regarding Sellafield. We are aware of the efforts of the European Commission and the European Parliament to ensure that one nuclear power plant in Slovakia meets the EU public health and safety standards. The Commission has sent experts to analyse the plant and the European Parliament has held a public hearing into the matter. The Commission does not appear to have the same attitude to the Sellafield and THORP nuclear plants and the concerns of the Irish people. Why has the Commission not sent in outside experts to analyse the safety and public health aspects of those operations? An independent analysis must be carried out on the THORP and Sellafield plants. The European Commission must be mindful of people's fears regarding nuclear power. The fears of Irish people and others around the world concerning nuclear energy is not based on hysteria, but on facts. Few could fail to be moved by the death of Evgenya Nesterenko, the eight year old Belarussian girl who died recently in the Mercy Hospital in Cork. She was a victim of the grotesque after effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster suffering from advanced osteoporosis and blood disorders and although she lived a tragically short and painful life, she was one of the lucky ones. Her death far away from home was preceded by expert medical attention and loving care from Adi Roche and members of the Chernobyl children's project. She left behind in Belarus hundreds of children and adults trying to cope with the appalling after effects of a disaster in a country simply unable to cope. While the living of Belarus and, indeed, the unborn, are most acutely affected by radiation exposure, we are faced with the chilling fact that Chernobyl's deadly pall was cast across Europe and may have reached our shores. Although the Chernobyl disaster occurred nine years ago its full effects are still not known.

Unfortunately, many terrorist groups and leaders of some countries are eager to get their hands on nuclear and chemical weapons. Last weekend we had the horrific example of a group using sarin to deadly effect in a tube station in Tokyo in Japan. The use of sarin, described as the poor man's atomic bomb, has brought home to all of us the effects which would accrue if nuclear materials were to get into the wrong hands. There has been a good deal of smuggling of nuclear materials from the former USSR. Happily much of it was detected in Germany, but how much nuclear materials were smuggled out undetected and are in the wrong hands at present? The incident in Japan last weekend is a small example.

The idea of somebody getting their hands on nuclear energy, power or weapons is horrific. It could result in huge destruction in any city if released. Obviously those who did it — I understand there were some arrests yesterday and this morning — are extremists of the worst kind. They do not really care about the destruction they caused. It is important for all of us to ensure that this treaty reflects the concern of the public regarding weapons and that the problem is tackled in a proper fashion.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs has organised meetings throughout the country at which we have debated foreign policy. Those meetings have been extremely important and have given people an opportunity to discuss Ireland's role within the United Nations and the European Union. It is important that Ireland is seen to have a role and an influence. This is an ideal opportunity for us to show that a small country such as ours can have a significant influence on such an important matter.

I ask the Tánaiste to support the motion and to acknowledge that we need goals and objectives when the treaty is discussed in April. It is important to have goals to ensure we are proceeding in the right direction and that they are monitored every five years. Otherwise we will not be able to tackle the changing circumstances in which we find ourselves. It was all right to do that some years ago because we had two superpowers and the number of countries with nuclear weapons was limited. The number of countries with nuclear weapons is growing and if we do no set goals and objectives we will not see a nuclear free world which is our goal.

I move amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after "That" and substitute the following:

"Dáil Éireann, in recognising the important role played by the late Mr. Frank Aiken TD, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, in initiating the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) over 25 years ago,

— endorses the approach of the Government in support of the indefinite extension of the Treaty at the NPT Review and Extension Conference in April;

— endorses also the objective of the Government to secure five-yearly reviews of the implementation of the Treaty;

— believes that international negotiations should be intensified with a view to:

(1) achieving agreement on the elimination of all nuclear weapons,

(2) agreement, in this context, on the steps needed to bring about an end to the production, modernisation and deployment of nuclear weapons,

(3) agreement on a treaty banning the production and use of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for weapons purposes,

(4) the establishment of effective arrangements to monitor and control all weapons-usable materials and to increase transparency with regard to nuclear weapons and materials,

(5) the early conclusion and implementation of a total test ban,

(6) the strengthening of the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), with particular reference to the Agency's ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities."

I commend Deputy Burke and his colleagues for affording the House an opportunity to discuss this important topic at a timely juncture prior to the NPT Conference which will take place in New York from 17 April to 12 May. This is the outstanding event of the disarmament calendar and one of the key disarmament meetings of recent years. The initial 25 year span of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty comes to an end this year. The New York Conference will decide the future duration of the Treaty, the most widely accepted arms control measure in history — a treaty which has 172 States parties, almost as many countries as subscribed to the United Nations Charter.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is a complex document, like the issue of nuclear non-proliferation itself. Before dealing with the questions that will arise at the NPT conference I would like to set out in clear and simple terms the main objectives of the Government which guide our approach to the forthcoming conference and to discussions and negotiations at the UN and in the European Union.

First, we want to see the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. This is based on the belief that the nature of the weapons and the scale of destruction and suffering that their use brings can have no place in an international society based on principles of morality and justice. Fifty years ago the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki witnessed the horrible beginnings of the nuclear age. In this anniversary year there can be no equivocation about the single most important aim of Ireland's disarmament policy — an end to nuclear weapons.

Second, we want to ensure that those who possess nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons technology — the so-called nuclear weapons States — do not pass on such weapons or such technology to non-nuclear weapons countries. For 25 years the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the monitoring and control arrangements associated with it, have helped to achieve that aim. When an international agreement enjoys the levels of endorsement and success now enjoyed by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is much wiser to seek to secure its future rather than call it into question. There is no reason to believe that if a question mark were to be placed over the future of the NPT, the international community would readily arrive at a superior agreement which commanded the same support.

Third, we want to see an end to testing nuclear weapons. We have welcomed the moratoria on nuclear testing announced by France, Russia, the UK and the US. We hope that these States will continue their ban, and we call on China to join them. However, these are unilateral measures subject to the vagaries of internal politics in the States concerned and to competitive pressures. That is why it is essential to secure the early conclusion of a treaty — a binding international agreement — which will comprehensively ban all nuclear tests for all time.

Fourth, we want an end to the production and stockpiling of materials, in particular plutonium, for use in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. In this connection the Government is supporting proposals at the UN for the negotiation of a treaty which would ban the production of plutonium for weapons purposes.

The text of the Government amendment is designed to meet these key objectives of Irish foreign policy.

Ireland is justly proud of its historic association with the NPT. It is appropriate that the House should recognise the important role played by a former Foreign Minister, the late Mr. Frank Aiken, in initiating the treaty, who was the first to raise the issue of nuclear non-proliferation at the United Nations in 1958. He drew attention to the dangers to world peace involved in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and proposed an international agreement to prevent the spread of such weapons. The proposal met strong resistance, not only from the major powers but from many smaller states. Mr. Aiken pursued the initiative, working to build broader support for it. Support for Ireland's approach grew steadily from 1959 until Resolution 1665, known as "the Irish Resolution" was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly on 4 December 1961.

The "Irish Resolution" called for the conclusion of an international agreement containing provisions under which the nuclear states would undertake to maintain control of their nuclear weapons and refrain from transmitting the information necessary for their manufacture to states not possessing such weapons. The agreement would also contain provisions under which non-nuclear weapons states would undertake not to manufacture or otherwise acquire control of such weapons.

The "Irish Resolution" contained the essence of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The elaboration of the treaty took seven years of negotiations before it was concluded and opened for signature. This was because of the great difficulty of arriving at an acceptable balance of mutual responsibilities and obligations of both nuclear and non-nuclear powers. Essentially, the treaty which emerged from the negotiations is based on a quid pro quo between the nuclear powers and the non-nuclear weapon states. Under it — the nuclear weapon states agree not to transfer nuclear weapons to any recipient, or give assistance or encouragement to induce non-nuclear weapon states to acquire such weapons, and they recognises the latter's right to the peaceful benefits of nuclear energy. — the non-nuclear weapon states undertake not to seek or receive nuclear weapons, and to conclude safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency to prevent diversion of nuclear material from peaceful uses.

The question of the duration of the NPT was an issue in the original negotiations. A number of developed industrial countries with the potential to make their own nuclear weapons argued, and argued successfully, against a treaty of indefinite duration, inter alia, because they were unwilling to foreclose the nuclear weapons option for themselves. Thus the treaty was concluded for an initial period of 25 years. However, the option of its indefinite extension at the end of that period was clearly written into the text. We must be aware of the possibility that some of those states who now oppose the indefinite extension of the NPT do so because they too are unwilling to foreclose forever the option of developing nuclear weapons themselves. Ireland could not endorse such a position. It would be inconsistent with our proud record on nuclear non-proliferation if we were to accommodate, even unwittingly, such designs.

Today, the political and ideological basis of the Cold War period in which the NPT was negotiated have all but vanished. The threat of nuclear conflict between the major powers no longer overshadows our daily lives. The nuclear arms race between the United States and the Russian Federation has halted, we hope permanently. As the recent entry into force of the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, START I, clearly signals, a reversal of the Cold War build-up of nuclear weapons is at last under way. Yet a glance at developments in Russia and in the former Yugoslavia is enough to dispel any complacent view that, even in Europe, a new and secure world order has already taken the place of the "hard and bitter peace" of the Cold War period.

Some of the new challenges that have arisen since the end of the Cold War are specific to the nuclear field. The dissolution of central control in the former Soviet Union has created a pressing need to put in place adequate systems of accountancy and control of nuclear materials in many newly independent states. It has also created a risk that expertise in nuclear weapons technology might be purchased by determined proliferators. Outside Europe, an end to the proxy wars of the Cold War period has brought major positive developments in Southern Africa, Afghanistan, Cambodia, and the Middle East. Yet even as these welcome developments occurred, the illegal nuclear activities of two parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty posed a most serious challenge to the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Confidence in the compliance of states with their obligations under the NPT and in the adequacy of the system of IAEA safeguards was shaken by reports of noncompliance by Iraq and North Korea.

While these challenges were vigorously addressed, and are being contained, it remains imperative that the safeguards system of the IAEA be further strengthened, with particular reference to the agency's ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities. This is the background to the final element of the Government's amendment.

The last NPT Review Conference in Geneva in August 1990 took place against a backdrop of dramatic improvement in international relations, an improvement which, for the first time, ushered in a realistic prospect of serious reductions in the numbers of nuclear weapons held by the nuclear weapons states. Nevertheless, as the then Minister for Foreign Affairs Deputy Gerard Collins, noted, the arguments which had made the negotiation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty a priority 20 years earlier had lost none of their relevance. He spoke of the fearsome prospect of possible increases in the numbers of nuclear weapon states and he looked forward to the 1995 conference as an opportunity for Ireland to renew our commitment to the NPT for an indefinite period. An indefinite extension by consensus would, he said, provide the best basis for carrying this important treaty into the 21st century. I agree fully. Even if the conference cannot reach consensus on this outcome, as seems plain in the light of the preparatory process, the Government maintains a strong belief that the optimum outcome would be for the NPT to be indefinitely extended. This view is shared by all 52 states of Europe represented in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE; by the members of the European Union including our neutral partners Austria, Finland and Sweden; by countries such as New Zealand and Australia which have traditionally shared Ireland's approach to nuclear disarmament; and by many in the developing world.

Since the 1990 Review Conference, the NPT has received a major new lease of life thanks to some highly significant accessions. These include the two remaining nuclear powers. France and China. All the states of the former Soviet Union except Russia have acceded as non-nuclear weapon states, among them Ukraine, previously the third largest nuclear power in the world. Some former so-called threshold states, such as Argentina and South Africa have changed course and joined the treaty as non-nuclear weapons states. In doing so, South Africa became the first country in the world unilaterally and voluntarily to give up an existing nuclear weapons programme.

France's accession means that for the first time all EU member states will be full participants at an NPT Conference. It has also meant that the EU is in a position to pursue a stronger policy on nuclear non-proliferation than heretofore.

The Maastricht Treaty, Title V of which establishes a Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, entered into force in November 1993 at a point when the preparatory process for the crucial NPT Review and Extension Conference was already under way. In the circumstances, it was natural that the European Council in Corfu in June 1994 should define the EU position on the outstanding issue of the 1995 conference and decide to make achievement of that position the subject of a Joint Action. Ireland was pleased that the subject of the first EU Joint Action in the disarmament field was the NPT, and it was gratifying that the substance of the Joint Action — promotion of the indefinite and unconditional extension of the treaty — corresponded with the position it had articulated four years earlier. Since Corfu, the European Union has been very active in pursuing the universality of the treaty, in trying to secure the widest possible participation in the preparatory committee for the conference and in promoting support for the indefinite extension of the treaty at the conference.

The considerable success of the NPT in containing the spread of nuclear weapons in the past 25 years should, in the view of the Government, be reinforced and copperfastened by permanently securing the treaty in place at the centre of the international non-proliferation regime. Opponents of the indefinite extension of the treaty seem to assume that what the treaty has achieved on the non-proliferation front has been secured once and for all. This is much too sanguine a view. The Government sees any uncertainty about the future life of the treaty as dangerous. States could be tempted to pursue policies, in anticipation of the ending of the Treaty, that could reverse the gains and lead again to nuclear weapons' proliferation.

The Fianna Fáil motion advocates a series of short extensions of the NPT, each conditional on fulfilment of a set of stated goals in the field of nuclear disarmament. The idea underlying this approach seems to be that the best way to secure nuclear disarmament is to make the continuation of the NPT from one short extension to the next conditional upon the performance of the nuclear weapon states measured against a set of specific nuclear disarmament goals.

I agree absolutely on the need to make progress on nuclear disarmament — it is the first priority of our disarmament policy. However, the approach advocated in the Fianna Fáil Motion is highly risky. It turns nuclear non-proliferation into a bargaining chip. It makes the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and its associated safeguards regime, dependent on the successful completion of other disarmament negotiations. It is gambling with one of the most successful arms control measures in history. The Government is firmly convinced that far from being the best way to advance nuclear disarmament a series of short, conditional extensions would, on the contrary, threaten progress in this vital area. It would undermine the creditbility of the NPT, weaken its effectiveness, tempt non-nuclear states to anticipate the ending of the treaty and, by virtue of its effect on the attitude of the nuclear weapon states, freeze ongoing efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament. However genuine and sincerely held the beliefs of those who are advocating a series of short conditional extensions of the treaty, I ask the House to reflect soberly on the all too likely repercussions of this course.

I would like to turn to the question of nuclear disarmament as provided for in Article VI of the treaty. The accession of the two remaining nuclear powers, France and China, means that for the first time we approach an NPT Conference with all five declared nuclear weapon states legally bound under this Article: "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under effective international control". I have already noted that the nuclear arms race between the US and the former Soviet Union has halted. Their enormous nuclear arsenals stand to be significantly reduced under the START I Treaty which entered into force last December and under START II, ratification of which is in hand. Thus, in the case of the two states which have the largest nuclear arsenals, the fulfilment of commitments assumed under Article VI of the NPT has at last begun to yield measurable results. Dramatic improvements in international relations at the close of the 1980s and in the first years of the 1990s provided the impetus for these developments.

Today, the difficulty as well as the imperative of sustaining confidence in relations between the US and the Russian Federation has become more obvious. Ratification of START II and, beyond it, agreement to reduce US and Russian nuclear arsenals still further, depend on confidence in the peaceful intentions of others no less than on confidence directly between Russia and the United States. The knowledge that the further spread of nuclear weapons had been permanently arrested would give the US and Russian Federation the confidence to reduce their nuclear arsenals further. This more than anything would create an effective inducement for the other declared nuclear weapons states — France, the UK and China — to begin to scale back their nuclear arsenals. Any outcome of the NPT Conference which creates uncertainty about the peaceful intentions of others would be bound to damage confidence and thereby place in jeopardy the ongoing but still fragile movement towards nuclear disarmament. This is the Government's essential objection to proposals for short extensions of the treaty.

I want to state categorically that the Government's support for the indefinite extension of the NPT must not be construed as acquiescence in the permanent retention of nuclear weapons by the nuclear weapon states and any suggestion to that effect is unworthy and untrue. On the contrary, the profound attachment of the people of Ireland and of successive Governments to the NPT owes a great deal to the fact that the treaty enshrines a good faith commitment to nuclear disarmament as well as obligations in respect of nuclear non-proliferation. It has, in Article VI, an unequivocal nuclear disarmament focus in addition to the more specific non-proliferation obligations set out in other articles.

The Government's motion considers five-yearly reviews of the implementation of the NPT as providing the opportunity to hold all states parties to full compliance with the obligations to which they have subscribed in the treaty. In the Government's view these reviews must be informed by a keen awareness that it is in the NPT — and in the NPT alone — that all five declared nuclear weapon states have undertaken a legal obligation to pursue nuclear disarmament in good faith; that this undertaking is of the greatest importance to all non-nuclear weapon states; that it is, therefore, not only legitimate but also right and proper that non-nuclear weapon states should press the nuclear weapon states to expedite action on disarmament pursuant to Article VI; and that reviews can and should serve to inject momentum into negotiations in other fora on measures conducive to nuclear disarmament, measures such as the six listed in the Government motion before us.

Ireland remains totally committed to nuclear non-proliferation, but we want to go further. That is why we so strongly advocate progress in the other areas currently under negotiation — principally the negotiations on a separate treaty to ban all nuclear testing for all time; and the proposals for the negotiation of a treaty banning plutonium production for weapons purposes. The achievement of these aims would, be made harder rather than easier by any gambling with the future of the NPT.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is one of the great achivements of the post-war world and one of the high points of Irish foreign policy. Its negotiation combined a vision of a denuclearised world with a knowledge of the difficult measures that must be taken to achieve that end.

International politics has changed immeasurably since the treaty was concluded, but the aims of the NPT remain valid — to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and to eliminate them entirely from the face of the earth. We live in a safer world because of the NPT. We cannot put it in jeopardy. The Fianna Fáil motion would do just that and I commend the Government amendment to the House.

I wish to share my time with Deputy Woods.

I am sure that is agreed.

I express appreciation to our spokesperson, Deputy Burke, on tabling this motion on behalf of our party. I am glad the Minister for Foreign Affairs is in the House to hear our genuine views. This is a new and radical approach by the Fianna Fáil Party, having consulted widely on the matter. In the past we have not had an opportunity to discuss these issues, especially before a United Nations meeting. It is important we put our position clearly to the House today.

In putting forward this comprehensive motion on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, we are conscious of the historic opportunity that awaits the NPT Extension Review Conference in New York next month to charter a new beginning for mankind, a new millennium free from the threat of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. We are also conscious of the unique role that Ireland can play as a strong independent voice in bringing this about. In proposing this motion, Fianna Fáil wishes to acknowledge, in particular, the role of the late Frank Aiken who, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, first raised the nuclear non-proliferation issue at the UN in 1958. The Tánaiste stated that our approach would meet strong resistance not only from the major powers, but also from many smaller states. I would remind him that the late Frank Aiken also met strong resistance, not only from the major powers but from smaller states when he put forward his proposal on this issue some time ago.

At that time the late Frank Aiken had two objectives, namely, to halt the proliferation of a category of weapons of fearful destructive capacity and to promote nuclear disarmament. In our motion we recognise the profound attachment of our party through the involvement of the late Frank Aiken, to the NPT. There has been great change in regard to the NPT since it was first negotiated in the 1960s in an atmosphere of superpower tension and nuclear arms build-up. Also, there is now peace between the superpowers. By 1990 the NPT had 141 States parties and had become a widely supported arms control measure. It has now more than 165 States parties and, as nuclear conflict between the major powers no longer threatens our daily lives, we have an enormous responsibility on our shoulders to make a real and substantial breakthrough at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference.

After 25 years the NPT comes up for extension at a point when the nuclear arms race between the United States and the former Soviet Union has come to a halt and their enormous nuclear arsenals stand to be significantly reduced under the START I and START II Treaties. It must, nevertheless, be said that nuclear modernisation programmes continue in both countries and it is significant that the nuclear programmes of other nuclear weapons states — Britain, France and China — remain untouched by existing arms control treaties. Deputy Burke, correctly, referred to the seizure in Germany of nuclear materials stolen and smuggled from the former USSR. Many questions remain unanswered about the control of nuclear materials following the breakup of the former Soviet Union. We do not know who holds those potentially dangerous weapons or where they are located. That is an important point to be addressed during this debate.

This brings me to the central issue of the conference in accordance with Article X.2. It will have to decide whether the treaty shall continue in force indefinitely or be extended for an additional period or periods. This decision will be taken by a majority of the parties to the treaty. The Government's position is that Ireland, like the European Union, should support the extension of the treaty indefinitely. This has been the position of successive Governments as far back as 1990.

The Fianna Fáil Party has decided it is time to adopt a new policy, having consulted widely with non governmental organisations such as Greenpeace. What we believe is required is a new system of global denuclearisation. The Tánaiste stated this is a risky strategy. When the late Frank Aiken put forward his proposals, they were also risky, novel and radical. Our proposals are targeted, we want to see results and we believe the time is right following the break-up of the former Soviet Union. They are put forward along the lines of stated goals in the field of nuclear disarmament and advocate a common sense approach. There is no doubt in my mind that the Irish people would be delighted and warmly applaud the Government if, in this crucial nuclear debate, it showed leadership and took a strong stance at EU and UN levels. Many arguments have been put forward about the position of the EU and other countries, but in the past Ireland proudly stood alone in this regard. Having regard to the new opportunities which exist, the Fianna Fáil motion is realistic and deserves the support of the Government parties.

Many non-alilgned countries which, like Ireland, are long-standing advocates of the complete abolition of nuclear weapons have sought to use the leverage that the issue of the extension on the treaty provides to increase the pressure for accelerated disarmament. Why not? Even before my appointment as Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs I was a strong lobbyist through international fora for a comprehensive test ban treaty. Such a treaty would realise a major unfulfilled aspiration of the NPT. That is something we want to see expedited — and which we think will be — by advocating our approach.

We should be showing our solidarity with the non-aligned nuclear weapons states to press the nuclear weapons states to negotiate and conclude a comprehensive test ban. This would provide adequate security assurances to non-nuclear weapons states in return for having foregone the nuclear weapons option to pursue negotiations on the reduction of nuclear weapons with a view to their ultimate elimination.

The Fianna Fáil Party believes it is time for the Government to stand by the proud tradition that we as a nation have represented on the question of nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The time is now right for the Government to take up a position. The treaty should only be extended for five-year periods with a set of stated goals pronounced at the beginning of each period.

The adoption and entry into force of the NPT has significantly encouraged horizontal proliferation in several countries. However, there are inherent contradictions and fundamental weaknesses in the treaty. Nuclear weapons continue to be produced and nuclear modernisation continues. Nuclear energy is promoted, thus contaminating the environment and threatening present and future generations. The nuclear industry has failed to manage industrial waste.

We have seen the safety risks and accidents at Sellafield and Chernobyl. By supporting this motion the Government could demonstrate and express firmly on behalf of the people, its clear and outright opposition to the Sellafield and THORP monstrosities. By supporting this motion the Minister for Foreign Affairs has a unique opportunity, in the run up to the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and the debate on a common defence policy for the European Union, to demonstrate clearly and unequivocally where we stand on the issue of nuclear weapons and power. The time is right to put down a market, to draw a line in the sand, on the question of nuclear power. It would spell out our outright rejection of the nuclear option in advance of the upcoming critical debate on how Europe's security policy framework should develop. It is quite alarming to observe the Tánaiste, since the formation of the rainbow Government, in a phased and co-ordinated way over the last number of weeks, making statements which suggest slowly moving this country closer to a European military alliance. We have heard that we should join the Partnership of Peace. Will the next step be membership of NATO?

I wonder what the rank and file of Labour Party members think of this policy. It is clear that the Fine Gael Party is committed to burying, once and for all. Ireland's traditionally neutral role. This side of the House can only hope that the Democratic Left will call a halt to the covert efforts of this rainbow Government to radically alter our valued foreign policy. As a nation we will have to play our role in regard to security and the development of a security policy for Europe but we are putting down a market that we will not tolerate any nuclear involvement in that debate. We are saying that we, as a small independent nation with a proud tradition in foreign policy, will be a voice against nuclear weapons. I appreciate that this is a debate on the NPT but it is relevant to the debate on defence and security of Europe. We as a party have a particular position and as a party wish to express it today.

I call on the Government to support this Fianna Fáil motion which attempts, in a realistic manner, to chart a new and effective non-proliferation course towards a nuclear free 21st century. If the Government chooses to do so, I am convinced it will have the overwhelming support of the people. I listened carefully to the Tánaiste who advanced strong arguments mainly based on what we have done in the past. I appreciate that since 1990 we have taken a particular position, and that is accepted. Across party lines people have expressed appreciation of the work done by the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time, Deputy Frank Aitken, in bringing forward the NPT.

The climate is now right to be brave, to show leadership and to do something different. The arguments suggesting that we should have an indefinite extension are all very fine. However, having consulted many non-governmental organisations, especially Greenpeace, we see this as an obvious opportunity for a Government which leads a country totally opposed to nuclear power and weapons to take a particular stance. This is a comprehensive motion, not just a one line statement. We are asking the Government parties to seriously consider voting for it tonight.

I support the motion and congratulate Deputy Ray Burke on bringing it forward. This matter transcends party politics. It is an area where Ireland has traditionally played a leading role among the nations at a time when it might not have been expected of Ireland, when it was not seen quite so frequently on the international stage. That is something about which we can be proud. The issue of nuclear power is close to the hearts of all our people. Irish people are very concerned about the proliferation of nuclear energy and weapons and would support this motion.

There are sincerely held concerns in Ireland about the extent, control and monitoring of nuclear energy. It is a highly technical subject and consequently it is not difficult for technologists to bamboozle us with scientific terms and tell us that there is no threat. One of the problems is that nuclear energy cannot be seen or felt. People are, therefore, fearful of nuclear energy and it is right that people should be concerned but, again and again, technologists have given assurances that while the levels of nuclear energy have increased and are measurable and quantifiable they are not, neverthless, a threat to the health and lives of our citizens. In this area more than in any other we are depending on scientists and technologists to protect us.

We on the east coast are particularly vulnerable because of Britain's policy of locating nuclear sites along its north western coast. Britain still pursues this policy along its coast on the other side of the Irish Sea. As a consequence we have been exposed to a series of dangers over which we have no control. There are regular low level radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea. If someone suggested this 12 to 14 years ago it would have been argued that they were letting their imagination run riot but we now know that despite the assurances this is the reality and that the discharges can be measured. Occasionally there are accidental higher level radioactive discharges and, notwithstanding the exchange of information and co-operation, there have been considerable delays in reporting them. This is totally unacceptable.

The transportation of products for reprocessing through the Irish Sea is the source of considerable concern both for Members of this House and throughout the community. It is also at the back of everyone's mind that a serious accident could occur as a result of human error, which would have horrific consquences. While we have all seen the horror movies which portray doomsday we have also seen the horrific effect of the accident at Chernobyl on little children in particular who were made so welcome here. This brought home to us the dangers associated with nuclear power.

Both north and south of the River Liffey but particularly in my constituency of Dublin North-East, many families spend a great deal of their recreational time on stands and beaches which they believe are slowly being contaminated. They were once clean and safe. There is widespread concern about the high incidence of cancer, including leukaemia, and the number of miscarriages and abnormal births.

We have often discussed crime which has been the subject of many studies, investigations and research. It took the specialists a long time to realise something which was obvious to many people, that crime had a great impact throughout the community. Along the east coast, on the north side of Dublin in particular, there is concern about the impact and effect of nuclear energy on local communities. This is a difficult matter to deal with. The simplest solution is to ensure the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy production plants and to limit their use to essential medical treatments.

We are not nuclear scientists and find it difficult, as public representatives, to handle or understand these issues but we have access to the scientific evidence relating to the threat posed to public health by emissions from Sellafield and THORP. In a report issued in 1993 a group of Oxford scientists, led by Dr. Peter Taylor, argued that the new plant would cause 200 deaths from cancer and 10,000 skin cancers thoughout Europe in its first ten years of operation. This argument was based on scientific knowledge. There is also considerable medical opinion which suggests there is a link between proximity to the plant and the clusters of leukaemia cases both in the United Kingdom and Ireland. About four years ago Dr. Irene Hillery completed research in the Dundalk area which showed a high level of miscarriages subsequent to a leak from Sellafield. Irish concerns are, therefore, reinforced by informed research.

We are told repeatedly that the radioactive discharges are well below acceptable levels. What level is considered acceptable to the community? I think one will find that they would like to see the level at zero although I accept it is necessary to use such energy in controlled medical treatments. There is need for a comprehensive review of the monitoring system, strong independent research, assurance and an action plan to phase out nuclear plants in the interests of mankind.

Given public concern about nuclear energy I strongly support the proposals put forward by my party's spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Deputy Burke, who contends that the treaty should only be extended for five year periods with a set of stated goals pronounced at the beginning of each period. We strongly support his call for global denuclearisation, including halting all nuclear weapons production, the modernisation and deployment of nuclear weapons, agreement on a schedule to achieve zero nuclear weapons and implementation of a complete ban on the separation, production and use of all plutonium and highly enriched uranium and establisment of an effective agency to monitor and control all weapons usable nuclear materials.

We strongly support Deputy Burke's motion. It will strike a chord with the people who want to see us take action in this area. They know we have difficulties with Britain in this regard and that Britain has persisted in proceeding with its nuclear policy, notwithstanding the great dangers not only to its population but to ours particularly on the east coast. I ask the House to strongly support this motion.

I have sympathy with Deputy Burke's motion because, as Deputy Woods has just said, when one comes face to face with the reality of nuclear destruction, it is easy to campaign on the need to eliminate nuclear power.

Some years ago we were fortunate to have had the Secretary of CND Ireland, Adi Roche, living in Cork. Having heard about the Chernobyl accident she travelled there and discovered the horrors of that region. Since then we have accommodated a great number of children and their carers from Chernobyl in Cork city and throughout the country. Approximately one month ago one of the children who came here for treatment as a result of the Chernobyi accident died. She was a young child, just starting out in life but had spent the majority of her childhood in hospital. Her parents and uncle travelled to Ireland to take her small body back home to an area so contaminated, the people living there know that their quality of life and chances of survival are extremely limited.

That is the reality of nuclear power. We have not used our advances in technology to benefit mankind but to virtually destroy entire areas. I speak not only about human beings but also vegetation and all other life forms. I am a little puzzled, therefore, by the motion coming from the sources that it does although I do not dismiss it on that account. It is an excellent motion and one which we should take on board.

Debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended at 2.15 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.