Ireland raises concerns about Sellafield at British Irish Council Summit in London
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern T.D. and the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dick Roche T.D. attended a summit meeting in London today with colleagues from across the British-Irish Council Region.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs briefed the Council on political developments in Northern Ireland. Minister Ahern said:
“The Irish Government is committed to advancing the work of the Council. On issues such as the environment, drugs and social inclusion we can learn from each other and develop opportunities to work together to mutual advantage.”
“We hope that in the very near future we will see a restored Northern Ireland Executive taking its place at the British Irish Council.”
Ireland also took the opportunity to outline our continuing concerns about Sellafield and nuclear safety generally. Minister Roche, while acknowledging some positive developments in recent times in the area of improved co-operation between Ireland and Britain on nuclear safety and emergency preparedness matters, reminded the Summit of the Irish Government's continuing commitment to bring about the safe closure of the Sellafield operations. “Sellafield represents a potentially serious threat to Ireland which must be removed.''
The Minister also conveyed Ireland's concerns about reports that the building of new nuclear power plants is being considered in the context of the UK's current energy review. Minister Roche added:
''The Irish Government will strongly oppose plans to expand nuclear energy in these Islands. Any decision to replace the current ageing British nuclear plants with new facilities is shortsighted and will blight future generations with the legacy of waste from these power stations.”
The theme of the Summit was Climate Change and Ministers discussed means of adapting to the serious impacts which it is having on our environment.
Given our geographic proximity, there is considerable scope for enhanced collaboration and sharing of information between administrations in the region. Following today's meeting, Minister Roche stated that:
“There is scope for the Council administrations to work more closely, both in terms of predicting the likely impacts of climate change over the coming decades, and sharing information on optimum responses to these impacts”.
Minister Ahern also raised the issue of FIFA passport requirements for Northern Irish footballers with SOSNI Peter Hain in the context of the Good Friday Agreement provisions on citizenship. It was agreed that both Governments would work with FIFA on this issue.
Note to Editors
This was the eighth Summit meeting of the British-Irish Council, established under the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement of 1998. The mandate of the British-Irish Council is to promote the harmonious and mutually beneficial development of relations between the peoples of these islands.
The meeting was Chaired by the Right Honourable John Prescott MP, and attended by Ministers from Ireland, Britain, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.
In addition to reviewing progress over the past year in the current eight priority work areas, the Council today agreed to adopt a new priority work area – Demography. Demographic changes are having a wide-ranging impact on the provision of services across the region and Member Administrations have much to gain from exchanging information and sharing expertise.
The Members of the British-Irish Council are the Irish and British Governments, together with the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and representatives from the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. During suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive, the interests of Northern Ireland are represented in the Council by the British Government.
The official Communiqué of today's meeting is available at:
2 June 2006