Case Against BNFL: Statements.

One of the main concerns of successive Irish Governments has been, and continues to be, the British nuclear industry and in particular the British Nuclear Fuels operation at Sellafield. As a result of Sellafield's proximity to the east coast of Ireland and the complexity of its nuclear operations, Sellafield has long been a source of public debate and a cause of concern to the Irish Government.

Public and political opinion in Ireland is firmly opposed to the use of nuclear power for energy purposes. The Government's policy is clear — to minimise and, as far as possible, eliminate the adverse implications for Ireland of the nuclear facilities at Sellafield and the nuclear activities in the UK and elsewhere.

A case is being taken by four County Louth residents against BNFL. The State is named as a co-defendant in this action. The Government has offered financial assistance to support the residents in their High Court action against BNFL. Last October, the House accepted a resolution which stated:

That Dáil Éireann calls on the Government to urgently support the legal case of the Louth residents' group against British Nuclear Fuels through the provision of the necessary financial assistance towards research and legal costs as well as the appropriate technical expertise and information.

Following acceptance of the resolution, the Government offered a package of financial assistance to the residents towards the cost of research activities being undertaken by them in their legal proceedings against British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. This offer, which involves financial assistance of £400,000, was duly made to the residents in October last year. A total of £350,000 of the sum is earmarked for research purposes, primarily scientific research, and the remainder is for information technology purposes to assist the residents in processing documents furnished by the State in the course of voluntary discovery.

No funding has yet been provided on foot of this offer. The main reason for this is that one of the conditions attached has yet to be met by the residents. This concerns an undertaking which the State requires the residents' solicitor to sign and which would oblige the residents' solicitor to furnish to the State all reports received as part of a research programme funded by the State and to keep the State promptly and fully informed about progress of research. It would also entitle the State to disclose such information and reports to its experts and legal advisers and to make use of such information and reports in these or other legal proceedings which it may see fit to bring arising from the operations of BNFL at Sellafield. Other than this, the information and reports would be treated as confidential and remain the property of the residents.

Correspondence and discussion on this undertaking have been extensive. I have met the residents on several occasions in an attempt to resolve differences regarding the wording. The residents' solicitor has met representatives of the Attorney General's office. The respective senior counsel have been endeavouring for two months to break the impasse. All attempts, however, to resolve the issue have proved unsuccessful to date.

The State's legal advisers deem this undertaking to be an essential prerequisite from the point of view of public accountability in regard to taxpayers' money and from a legal point of view where it is necessary for the State to avoid being involved in an abuse of the process of the court.

The State is still a co-defendant in this action despite numerous requests that it be removed as a co-defendant. The October l997 motion committed the Government to support the action against British Nuclear Fuels Limited but it did not commit it to support an action against itself. The House will appreciate the absurdity of a situation where the State would provide significant financial assistance for research activity but would not have use of this research. The basic difference between the undertaking sought by the State and the counter undertaking put forward by the residents' solicitor is that the State's version would enable it to make whatever use it can of the research if the residents persist with the State as a co-defendant.

In December l997 the Government approved a further package of assistance relating to work engaged in by the residents' counsel in assessing and certifying proposals for research and in engaging in dialogue with researchers to ensure relevance and admissibility of evidence. I put these proposals to Mr. MacGuill in a letter dated 12 December l997. The residents have yet to confirm that they are in a position to accept this offer. I hope discussions on this second package can commence when the issue of the undertaking is resolved.

I now turn to the matter of a request by BNFL for details of the State financial assistance to be provided for the residents. In January l998 BNFL's solicitors requested the State to provide information on the financial aid offered to the residents for research purposes. The Attorney General's office was strongly of the view that BNFL's solicitors should be given full information on the role the State is playing in this matter. If the State did not disclose these details to BNFL, it was likely to obtain a court order requiring the State to furnish the information at a future date. Consequently, in March l998 the Chief State Solicitor's office replied to BNFL's solicitors' request providing details of the package of assistance offered by the State to the residents.

The residents' solicitor subsequently claimed that he had learned of the State's action on this matter "by chance" and that such details had been released without prior consultation with him. He requested copies of the correspondence with BNFL's solicitors and sought a categorical assurance that there would be no further release of information without prior consultation. There was no question of the residents learning of this by chance. I personally instructed that the residents' solicitor be advised of BNFL's request and the nature of the response that issued. The residents were copied with the State's response to BNFL's solicitors. Ireland and the Attorney General continue to be defendants in this action. In the circumstances the State must be in a position to deal with this action as it sees fit. It was not possible, therefore, to accede to the residents' request that there be no further release of information without prior consultation with them.

Discussions which I had with the residents and their solicitor up to now, have by mutual agreement, been carried out in a confidential manner. I have now been informed, however, by the residents' solicitor that his clients do not assert confidentiality in relation to the discussions that have taken place. Provision was made in the Estimates last year and this year for the provision of financial assistance for the residents. I have done everything possible to facilitate payment. The Chief State Solicitor and I have urged Mr. MacGuill on numerous occasions to avail of the funds as quickly as possible.

I have given my personal attention to the issues involved in detail since taking office. I am concerned at the delay which has occurred in respect of the drawdown of funds arising from difficulties with the undertaking and have urged Mr. MacGuill to sign it to allow prompt payment of moneys to his clients. I am in the process of arranging another meeting with the residents and their solicitor, from whom I received another letter today, which may be of significance, in a further attempt to resolve the current difficulties which the residents have with the undertaking which the State is seeking.

What a difference a day makes: yesterday when I attempted to raise this issue I was fired out of the House for the first time in 17 years; today we can have a proper debate.

I have always been happy to debate the issue with the Deputy at any time.

I am not blaming the Minister of State but I am not happy about what happened yesterday. A Government's relationship with parliament is an issue about which I feel strongly. The Government's handling of the Louth residents' group's court action against BNFL since 16 October l997 when the Dáil passed a resolution has been shameful, dishonourable and disingenuous. In its election manifesto this time last year Fianna Fáil, unilaterally and without pressure or equivocation, promised to support the case, financially and otherwise. This was echoed in the Government's programme. Last October, untypically, the Government accepted the following Dáil resolution:

Dáil Éireann calls on the Government to urgently support the legal case of the Louth Residents Group against British Nuclear Fuels through the provision of the necessary financial assistance towards research and legal costs as well as the appropriate technical expertise and information.

Not one penny has been paid by the Government to the LRG or its legal representatives despite the public being misled into believing that the Government was actively supporting the case. Specifically, court fees and drafting fees have been precluded from the offer of payment. Undertakings have been sought for payment of research expenditure. In return, the LRG has sought to ensure any research documentation would not be obtained by BNFL and its representatives. This is a reasonable and prudent consideration from its point of view.

The Government has tried to portray the LRG and its legal representatives as being unreasonable and inflexible. This is most unfair. They have never sought to be involved in political controversy, they are ordinary County Louth individuals who, in a public spirited sense and at great personal cost, have sought to fight the health hazard posed by Sellafield in the only way open to them. They have been betrayed in their legitimate expectations arising from the Government's acceptance of the Dáil resolution. They fear elements in the Government apparatus do not believe in the viability of the case and that unlimited access to some of their documentation could sow the seeds of the loss of the case.

The issue of removing the State as a co-defendant is a red herring. The LRG has never been intransigent on this point which is not irresolvable. Sooner or later the Dáil resolution will be retabled to test the Government's bona fides on the matter. As six months have elapsed since the last debate, the motion is eligible for retabling. In the interim I call on the Government particularly the Taoiseach, who made personal commitments to the House on the matter, to honour their pledges wholeheartedly and without further conflict or delay.

The kernel of the issue is that the Minister will pay the money if the group will sign the undertaking. The Minister gave the game away when he said the basic difference between the undertaking sought by the State and the counter undertaking put forward by the residents' solicitor is that the State's version of the undertaking would enable the State to make whatever use it can of the research if the residents persist with the State as a co-defendant. This means the research could be given to any third party. The Government could rubbish it or say that it had gaps. This is exactly the fear of the residents. They want an undertaking that BNFL will not see any of the research and that any limitations or vulnerabilities in it will not be exposed to the detriment of the case. This is the critical point.

Despite its promises, the Government has sought bureaucratic delays, inserted new preconditions and denied payment to date. I ask the Minister to outline the position regarding fees for the two cases that are before the courts. In addition, BNFL has sought from the LRG a statement of claim and particulars. These are legitimate expenses.

I understood it was agreed that an accounting system, based on invoices, would be put in place for research on health related and IT issues. This was the generally acknowledged procedure and it was understood that the motion would resolve this issue. However, this has been thrown out the window and new preconditions have been put in place.

They are not new.

The position now is that the legal advisers to STAD have sought an undertaking that the documentation which they are prepared to give to the Government — my view is that they are prepared to release the State as a co-defendant — would not be released to any third party without their consent. This is a reasonable undertaking to seek. If I was taking a civil action against a person and somebody else offered to support me, it would be a reasonable and prudent undertaking to seek.

Ultimately, there is a view that the Government or the Attorney General does not believe in the viability of the case and, therefore, there is a capacity to damage it. There is no point in the Minister saying at a future date that the Attorney General has given further advice. All this advice was available to the Minister prior to 16 October when the Government freely accepted the motion. The group has been unjustifiably let down. The Dáil resolution has been flouted and reneged upon. The Minister must intervene at a political level to ensure that a reasonable agreement is reached regarding third party access to the documentation and the release of the State as a co-defendant. The Minister must be pro-active on this issue. The only winner in a stand off is BNFL.

Today's newspapers contain reports of the statement by Dr. Gordon Thompson, an American expert in this area, that the risk posed by a potential accident at Sellafield is between ten and 100 times greater than the damage inflicted by the accident at Chernobyl, the consequences of which do not need to be emphasised. This is the objective opinion of one of the foremost experts in the US nuclear industry.

There was unanimity when this matter was last debated. In good faith the Minister was given eight months to proceed. This side has not made a political football of this matter, but I condemn the lack of pro-active determination at a political level to ensure that money is paid for bona fide research carried out on an invoice basis and the State is ultimately removed as a co-defendant. Third party access to the documentation should be on a consent basis by the LRG legal representatives. This is the formula to solve this issue. I am not attempting to score political points. I want to ensure that a resolution to the issue is found which will allow the case to proceed. We do not want BNFL to be able to up the ante and weaken the position of the LRG.

I welcome the debate. However, the Minister's speech conveyed an attitude that if the State is to be a co-defendant, it may wish to defeat the case. The Minister has been somewhat duplicitous in that and I regret the money has not been paid. I call on the Taoiseach to intervene on the issue.

The nuclear complex at Sellafield is the greatest single threat to the health and well-being of the Irish people. This has been accepted by successive Governments. However, since the change of Government, there has been a deafening silence on the issue from the Minister and the Government. There has been inactivity. Under pressure in the House, a committee dealing with Sellafield was re-established. However, it does not meet. The move was simply window dressing.

I will address three issues. The first is the litany of broken promises regarding firm undertakings and decisions of the Government and the Dáil. The election manifesto of Fianna Fáil promised to cover the full cost of the case. However, no action has been taken. Money has not been given to the group. A previous speaker quoted the Dáil motion, which was supported by the Government. This has been flouted by the Government and action has not been taken on it.

The Book of Estimates contains a provision of £200,000 and a promise of £400,000 from the Government. However, not a brass farthing has been issued to the Dundalk residents for the costs they have incurred on foot of these firm promises. Legal representatives who have incurred costs have not been paid. Research and technical staff have not been paid and may end their contracts as a result. STAD has been set up by the Government and left high and dry.

It is a critical stage in this matter. STAD has been requested by BNFL for a written statement of claim and this must be provided. A written notice of particulars, with 133 questions outlined by British Nuclear Fuels, has been received by the group which is without resources. Not a penny of the taxpayers' money which was provided by the House has been paid by the Minister to the group. There has been a litany of cleverly designed red tape to ensure that no money could be drawn down. In common with Deputy Yates, I call on the Minister to cut across this red tape and ensure some action.

I wish to refer to statements made by the Minister in the House on a number of separate occasions. Opposition Deputies have been severely restricted by the Minister of State repeatedly stating that there was a confidentiality agreement between him and the Dundalk residents. On 16 December 1997, the Minister of State said that, by mutual agreement with the residents, he did not believe it helpful to comment further on the details of the discussions at that stage. On 3 June 1998 he said that the discussions were, by mutual agreement, being carried on in a confidential manner and that further comment would not be appropriate at that stage.

Opposition Deputies were inhibited from getting information arising from these statements by the Minister of State. We discovered that no such confidentiality agreement ever existed.

Not true.

I quote from a letter from the group's solicitor, dated 19 June, which he sent to me and to others:

Because of the pressure we are now under to deal with the notice of particulars, we have had to bring the matter once more to the attention of other Deputies in the House. We were surprised to learn from them that they have been unable to obtain detailed information from you as you have indicated that you consider yourself bound by a confidentiality agreement with us in relation to the conduct of the negotiations. No such confidentiality agreement exists, as is illustrated .

The letter goes on to cite instances of the Minister of State giving information outside the House about the situation. This is a serious matter and the Minister of State must clarify whether such an agreement existed. If not, he should set the record on this matter straight, because it is an important issue.

The Government has undermined the case being taken by STAD. We have been told that the Attorney General has given certain advice, but we have also been told that that advice is confidential and cannot be discussed even in the House. There was an example of this recently in the debate on the terms of reference of the Flood Tribunal. However, the Minister of State has no such inhibitions. He went on his local radio station this morning and, deliberately and cold-bloodedly, gave the negative advice offered by the Attorney General to the Government in this case. We had a similar incident, though it was not as coldblooded, during a debate at the end of last year.

Not true. That was totally different.

The Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, also broke the confidentiality rule on the Attorney General's advice when he said the Attorney General stated that there was no case.

My reference was to the State's case.

It is outrageous that that Minister and the Minister of State, Deputy Jacob, are seeking to deliberately sabotage the Dundalk residents' case. I ask the Minister of State to explain to the House why the Attorney General's advice is confidential in one case while it can be used in another to undermine the case of the Dundalk residents.

I recall the proposal to build a massive underground dump at Sellafield which would be irreversible and unchangeable for all time. I was advised at the time that I should not go to the public inquiry, that if I went I should not speak and that there was no hope of winning the case. I rejected that advice and hired an outside legal team, headed by Professor Elihu Lauchterpacht. I attended the public hearing, addressed it and we won the case, stopping the dump from going ahead.

That is to the Deputy's credit.

The Minister of State should not take all the advice he is given, either by the Attorney General or other experts. They are regularly wrong.

My next target was the storage of highly radioactive liquid waste in tanks at Sellafield. There are 21 such tanks and they have been identified by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland as the greatest single risk to Ireland at Sellafield. These tanks must be constantly cooled or they will explode. If one exploded, it would be equivalent to ten Chernobyls. If an aircraft crashed into one, if there was a terrorist attack or an earthquake, we would have Chernobyl multiplied by 200 on our doorstep. That is a doomsday situation and there is a real danger that it could occur. Despite the unbelievable implications, neither British Nuclear Fuels nor the British Government has any plans for dealing with such an occurrence. If it occurred, and it is possible, Irish agriculture would be wiped out for the foreseeable future; we would not be able to eat produce from this country. Tourism would go and many people would die.

The Minister of State should deal with these matters in his response. All his energy seems to be expended on tying up STAD with red tape to ensure that the money voted by this House to STAD is not paid to it. I ask him not to assist British Nuclear Fuels by feeding it information that is the result of STAD research or otherwise. He must be proactive and must fulfil the undertakings to pay the money to STAD. There must be no further sabotage of the STAD case.

I remind the Minister of State that the Sellafield complex is the biggest single threat to the health and well-being of the Irish people.

It is now 12 months since we had a change of Government and it is now clear that the Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrat Government does not regard the Sellafield issue as a priority. This Government inherited from its predecessor an unprecedented record of activity and success on the Sellafield issue. As Deputy Stagg said, the Nirex dump was stopped, legislation was enacted to prohibit radioactive dumping at sea, action was taken to counter the hazards of shipments of nuclear waste, a range of initiatives was undertaken at international for a such as OSPAR and the IMO, it became a subject of discussion at prime ministerial level for the first time and the activities of the various Government Departments and agencies on Sellafield were being co-ordinated through an interdepartmental committee for the first time.

Unfortunately, the change in Government last year has resulted in the urgency going out of the Sellafield issue and we are now back with ritualistic expressions of concern from Ministers which get us nowhere. Specifically, the promise made by Fianna Fáil to fully fund the STAD case has been reneged on. To date not a single penny has been paid. It was a classic Fianna Fáil election promise. The previous Government had undertaken to provide financial support for the STAD case, but Fianna Fáil had to go one better. It was going to fully fund the case. The message was quite clear: it would provide whatever funds were necessary for the entire case. That is now clearly being reneged upon, but worse than that, the Minister of State with responsibility for the area, and Deputy Dermot Ahern in a previous debate, have effectively undermined the case by making public statements that suggest there is no basis for the case in the first place.

Not true.

We can argue the semantics of that, but the message is out there.

Argue the realities.

BNFL must be laughing all the way to its storage tanks when it realises that Government Ministers are effectively saying there is no basis for the STAD case.

That was the advice given to the previous Government. Nothing has changed.

Meanwhile the situation at Sellafield is getting worse. The discharges of technetium 99 from Sellafield are now 250 times what they were five years ago. The seabed near the Sellafield outfall is now so contaminated that it would itself be classified as nuclear waste if it were on land. The report published yesterday by the Institute for Resource and Security Studies suggests that there is now in Sellafield the potential for a nuclear accident which would be worse than Chernobyl. The Dounreay plant is to be closed, which will mean that there will be increased activity at Sellafield. The German authorities have banned the movement of nuclear waste, yet our Government has taken no action to halt the shipments of nuclear waste in the Irish Sea, and the Government committee which is supposed to be co-ordinating activities between the different Departments has met on only two occasions since this Government was formed.

The sooner Deputy Harney pulls the plug the better.

Sellafield is now more dangerous, more polluting and poses a more serious threat to the safety and security of this country and its people than it has ever done before, and this Government has taken its foot off the pedal. We need three things — the implementation of the resolution which was passed in the Dáil on the STAD funding, the publication of the Government's position in advance of the OSPAR ministerial meeting next month, and for this Government to give this issue the priority the previous Government had been giving to it and on which we are being very badly let down by the present Administration.

All organisations have their foundation stories. In the case of the Green Party, whenever old heads get together they will eventually get around to reminiscing about Carnsore and the popular effort there in the late 1970s and early 1980s to oppose plans, promulgated in Government by Deputy Des O'Malley, to site a nuclear plant there.

The realisation dawned on people in the years after Carnsore that there already was a nuclear power plant, vastly bigger than anything planned for County Wexford and approximately the same distance from our biggest centre of population, Dublin. Windscale, as it was known then, became a touchstone issue for the emerging Green Party in the early and mid-1980s. When others argued that because the nuclear industry supplied 25 per cent of the UK's energy usage it had to be regarded as being there to stay, the Greens held to a simple and easily understood principle — that in ecological, environmental and human terms nuclear fission is simply too expensive and too dangerous a way to meet society's energy needs. That principle has not changed.

In the future the world will wonder why the 20th century put so much faith in the nuclear industry. What we have witnessed in the two decades since the formal establishment of the Green Party has included the Three Mile Island catastrophe and the horror of Chernobyl, but also the recently announced closure of Dounreay. The closure of Dounreay marks the beginning of the end of the nuclear industry on these islands. It tells us, who have known for so long that Sellafield must be closed, that now Sellafield can be closed.

The corner has been turned. An important expression of that is the inspired action of four individuals, Mary Kavanagh, Constance Shortt, Mark Deary and Ollan Herr who, as STAD, have in effect asked why should this threat of death and destruction hang over all of us and our children in a horrible doomsday scenario arising from an accident or, by instalments, from every day's releases and emissions. They have nothing to gain should they win this case above and beyond what everyone who lives in and cares for this country has to gain. However, this Government, despite promises made very publicly by Fianna Fáil, believes it has everything to lose, should they lose. In spite of the very considerable weight of evidence, added to again today by the General Council of County Council's support, Fianna Fáil is again simply refusing to co-operate with them. It reminds me of the promise by Fianna Fáil prior to the election in relation to GMOs where again it said it would, in Government, stop the deliberate release of GMOs. It was an entirely cynical and opportunistic election ploy.

How serious is this Government about the Sellafield issue? Deputy Stagg raised the question of the storage tanks. Has this been addressed by the subcommittee, and how often does the subcommittee meet? What diplomatic pressure has been applied to our fellow EU member state, Germany, and to Japan to stop the supply of nuclear waste being shipped up the Irish Sea for reprocessing? Has the Government made a decision to adopt a victim mentality in the face of the nuclear industry, taking the attitude that since we cannot directly control it we will ignore it and hope it will go away? Substantially, Governments create the realities they experience. This Government has the opportunity to be part of the solution to Sellafield by keeping its promise to wholeheartedly support STAD. Instead, it seems it has decided to remain attached to the problem posed by Sellafield.

The people deserve a more constructive attitude. Successive Governments have talked about Sellafield. They have looked upon it opportunistically as a nice electoral issue while in Opposition. In Government, however, it has been an entirely different story. I am convinced, now more than ever, that the only way Sellafield will be closed is when the Greens form part of a Government, because we will not become part of a coalition arrangement unless and until there are concrete proposals which are deliverable for the closure of the plant.

Sellafield affects us all. If any evidence of that is needed, a report carried out by the UK Department of Health and published last year which analysed the results of a survey of 3,300 teeth taken from adolescent children from Wexford to Antrim and from Kent to Scotland found that plutonium from Sellafield is in their bodies.

What has been revealed today is an indictment of this Government. I ask the Minister to stop talking about this issue and do something. These people are entirely reasonable ordinary people. They are looking for the support of the Minister of State, and he has betrayed them.

If this matter were not so serious, the bluster and rhetoric I have listened to for the last few minutes would be totally amusing. This Government has been in office for 12 months. It is vigorously continuing the campaign against Sellafield, which it undertook to do in its programme for Government. The previous Government blustered and indulged in rhetoric for three years. I commend Deputy Stagg, as I have publicly done before, for what he took on board and dealt with. It was a meritorious piece of work. However, we are not comparing like with like here today.

There are a number of points with which I will deal. The Government has honoured the Dáil motion.

No, it has not.

I gave an undertaking in my first letter to the residents in October when I indicated to them that this would be necessary.

Nobody believes that.

They had to sack their solicitors.

We have to act on legal advice from the Attorney General. Deputy Stagg quoted from a letter about the confidentiality agreement. Another letter by the same author, dated 22 June 1998 reads:

Finally, while we at all times indicated our preference to maintain discussions on a confidential basis, the State have acted entirely at variance with our wishes and in fact it cannot be fairly said that there are in place any negotiations at the present time.

They indicated their preference at all times to maintain discussions on a confidential basis.

Their consent to third party access in the documentation is the key issue.

The Deputy and others talked about red tape. There is no red tape. I gave a commitment that there would be no undue bureaucracy and there is no undue bureaucracy.

There is.

In deference to what Deputy Yates said, I want to see an invoice coming in from the researchers, certified by the residents' solicitor, which will be paid forthwith without undue bureaucracy on the basis of the undertaking. That is the minimum that can be accepted having regard to the advice of the Attorney General. We have to protect the State and the Government but there have not been any——

Will the Minister please answer the question about third party access to the documentation?

I am coming to the Deputy's questions. The ministerial committee was referred to by a number of Deputies. The committee met for the first time in February and, as arranged a week ago, its third meeting is scheduled for tomorrow. That is a total of three meetings in four months. The previous Government——

The first meeting was held eight months after the Government was formed?

——had such a committee in situ which met seven times in three years.

The committee did not meet for eight months?

The committee has a full programme of work.

We never heard of it.

With regard to the accusation of inactivity, I have been very active on this matter. I sat down with Mr. Michael Meacher in November last——

The Minister of State sat down most of the time.

He was sitting on his hands.

——and vigorously discussed the important matters. I have since corresponded with the Environment Minister, Mr. John Battle. We will attend the OSPAR——

The Minister of State is avoiding the key question and his time will soon run out.

I am addressing the matters raised here. The undertaking is the key to this issue. Rather than engaging in bluster and rhetoric, I suggest my colleagues opposite should help me to help the residents.

We want the Minister of State to do something. He should pay them the money.

I would love to pay them the money in the morning.

Will the Minister of State give a guarantee that BNFL will not see the data?

The Minister of State told the residents he would pay them everything they asked for.

If the Deputies would exhort the residents' solicitor to sign the undertaking that is deemed necessary, the moneys can be drawn down.

Is the Minister saying he is being unreasonable?

Third party access.

I am saying that an undertaking is deemed to be necessary to protect the taxpayer and this State. The detail of that has been spelled out repeatedly, both verbally and in writing. The Deputies opposite allege that they are championing the cause of the residents. I ask them to exhort the residents' solicitor to sign that undertaking and send it to me.

The document could end up with BNFL.

These people——

That is the undertaking they require.

How convenient.

Will the Minister of State give them the results?

There is no question about that.

I ask the Minister of State to conclude.

The Minister's comments are ludicrous.

Instead of the rhetoric and the bluster I would appreciate it if the Deputies opposite would exhort the legal agent of the residents to sign the undertaking so that we can pay out the money——

So that they can lose the case.

——the Government has put in place.

Sitting suspended at 2.05 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.