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Monday, 24 December, 2001, 16:17 GMT
Irish 'ignorant' over Sellafield
Woman reading the Fianna Fail Times advertisement 24 November
The Fianna Fail advert: "Hysterical"
Sir Bernard Ingham, a former aide to Margaret Thatcher, has called Irish opposition to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant "hysterical and ignorant".

Sir Bernard, a close aide of Lady Thatcher during her years as UK Prime Minister, is now a member of the Supporters of Nuclear Energy organisation.

He said the Irish government's legal attempt to close the Sellafield plant was "really very disturbing".

He also attacked a recent full-page advertisement in The Times newspaper by Fianna Fail, the largest party in the Dublin coalition administration, spelling out its opposition to the Cumbrian nuclear complex.

Sir Bernard Ingham
Sir Bernard: "Apologist" for the nuclear industry

Sir Bernard told Irish radio that Fianna Fail had wasted its money on "an ignorant advert. When you read the advert, you realise how little they know and how hysterical it all is.

"Where is the evidence? There is no evidence whatsoever that Sellafield has created, or continues to create, a health hazard through its discharges."

Sir Bernard said: "Those people who are supporting the Irish cause are wrong in fact.

"What I find really fascinating is that Fianna Fail have not the slightest compunction in ending the jobs of 10,000 people in west Cumbria."

Sir Bernard's comments were immediately criticised by the Irish government's Social Community and Family Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern, whose County Louth parliamentary constituency lies across the Irish Sea from Sellafield.

(Sir Bernard) is disregarding the views and the fears of the vast majority of the people

Dermot Ahern,
Irish government minister

He said Sir Bernard "is obviously an apologist for the nuclear industry in the United Kingdom".

"He is disregarding the views and the fears of the vast majority of the people - not just on this side of the border, but of all the people on this island.

"The advice to us from our experts is that the Selllafield facility is particularly dangerous from discharges and also the risk of an explosion."

The controversial plant began testing its manufacturing process earlier this month, after surviving five rounds of public consultation and legal challenges from the Irish Government and two environmental groups.

The plant, completed in 1996, is expected to begin producing the mixed oxide (Mox) fuel - produced by mixing recycled plutonium with uranium - in January 2002.

See also:

19 Dec 01 | Sci/Tech
Norway demands UK nuclear rethink
17 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Irish appeal over nuclear plant
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