25 October 2001 Edition

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"Decommission Sellafield" - Ó Caoláin demand to Blair

Speaking at a major conference organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in London last weekend Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin called for a campaign of 'people power' on both sides of the Irish Sea to demand the closure of the Sellafield nuclear plant. The TD said:

"Sellafield is a most serious and immediate danger to all the people of Ireland and Britain - a potential Chernobyl in our midst. When he approved the decision to open a MOX (mixed oxide fuel) plant at Sellafield earlier this month, Prime Minister Tony Blair was guilty of an act of bad faith and disregard for the Irish people on a par with anything done by his predecessors in the long and sorry history of Anglo-Irish relations.

"The demand for the complete closure of Sellafield is now growing as people realise the threat posed to all of us by an attack on the plant similar to 11 September. That is a real danger.

"But if 11 September had never happened, Sellafield should still be closed down. It has turned the Irish Sea into the most nuclear-polluted stretch of water in the world. British Nuclear Fuels Limited has repeatedly lied and deceived about the safety of the plant. In July 1999, they sent a cargo of MOX fuel to Japan and falsified quality control standards, resulting in the rejection of the cargo by the Japanese government. That cargo is to return to these islands within months, destined for Sellafield.

"I take this opportunity to call for a united effort by people on both sides of the Irish Sea to have Sellafield shut down. This plant endangers the lives of people in Britain as much as in Ireland. We must deploy people power to get rid of Sellafield. Our message to Tony Blair must be loud and clear: 'Decommission your dirty and deadly nuclear industry now!'"

Sharing the platform with Deputy Ó Caoláin were Labour MP Diane Abbott, Darren Johnson (Green Party member of the London Assembly) Barry Camfield (TGWU) Arielle Denis (Movement de la Paix, France) Guan Yin (First Secretary, Chinese Embassy.) There was a statement of support and solidarity from London Mayor Ken Livingstone and a number of MPs and MEPs spoke in earlier sections of the day-long conference.


Addressing the war being waged by the United Sattes and Britain against Afghanistan, Ó Caoláin said:

"In the wake of the 11 September atrocities in the US, we were offered a false choice by President Bush when he said that you are either with us or with the terrorists. We are not with the terrorists of 11 September. We deplore them. But we deplore also the rush to war and the bombardment of the impoverished nation of Afghanistan, a bombardment which has already killed hundreds of civilians and which is precipitating a massive humanitarian disaster as millions face starvation with the onset of winter.

"The US government and the British government should listen to the aid agencies and end the bombardment now so that humanitarian relief can be brought to the millions of Afghan civilians who otherwise are doomed to perish in the weeks ahead.

"We must ask also what are the war aims of the US and Britain and their allies in Afghanistan? Is it to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden? Is it to install the Northern Alliance? Is it to occupy the country as the British Empire, the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union tried and failed to do in the past? Already we see that this war has inflamed the deep and complex problems in Central Asia and the Middle East. The fundamentalism and terror which it is supposed to combat are being boosted."

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