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May 28, 2005

Sellafield Leak A Damning Indictment

News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 05/28/05 Sellafield Leak A Damning Indictment, Says Minister
BB 05/28/05 UUP Leadership Race 'Irrelevant'
EX 05/28/05 Rabbitte Attacks Aer Lingus Sellout Decision
UT 05/28/05 Reaction To Belfast Car Death
SF 05/28/05 Sinn Féin Conference On EU Constitution Begins In Dublin
TE 05/28/05 Elegant Equations


Sellafield Leak A Damning Indictment, Says Minister

27/05/2005 - 18:26:12

The recent leak at Sellafield is "another damning indictment" of the
ageing nuclear power station, the Environment Minister said today.

Dick Roche said he had been updated by the British Authorities over
the mid-January leak from a pipe in the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing
Plant (Thorp) at the UK power station.

Mr Roche welcomed the new information – which did not have
implications for Ireland – but said he found the reports' findings
"deeply worrying".

"The pattern with Sellafield is well established and consistent," the
Environment Minister said.

"A serious incident occurs, the investigation reveals serious safety
failures and weaknesses, recommendations are drawn up and implemented,
and further assurances given that the plant is safe.

"However, this pattern is untenable and the safety record at the plant
has given the Irish Government serious cause for concern for some

"This latest information serves only to increase the concerns of the
Government and to reinforce our efforts to secure the safe and orderly
closure of Sellafield," the minister said.

The investigation by British Nuclear Group found the pipe may have
begun to fail as early as August 2004 and that opportunities were
missed between January 2005 and April 19, which would have shown
material was leaking.

The secondary containment cell ensured there was no release of
radioactivity to the environment and the leak could not have been
prevented, but the amount of liquid released could have been reduced,
the report found.

"What is clear is firstly the crack should never have occurred, and
secondly if it did occur and when it occurred, no matter how small or
big it was, it should have been immediately detected," Mr Roche said.

"To say this went on for five months, and possibly from last August,
does nothing to give us any confidence and re-emphasises our
determination to press ahead with the legal actions we have in place."

The minister said he had written to seek an early meeting over the
Thorp incident with the UK Environment Secretary and the Trade and
Industry Secretary.

Mr Roche has also raised the issue with the European Commissioner for
Energy, and said the European Commission's suggestion it was going
step down the level of inspections of nuclear plants in Europe was "a
very bad decision".


UUP Leadership Race 'Irrelevant'

It is not important who succeeds David Trimble as UUP leader because
"politics has moved on", DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson has

Mr Trimble stepped down after his party lost four of its five Commons
seats, including his own in Upper Bann.

The Ulster Unionist Council will meet next month to select a new

Mr Robinson said he did not care who was chosen to lead the UUP, as
"the unionist community has put its faith in the Democratic Unionist

"I don't actually think it's that important - politics has moved on in
Northern Ireland," he said.

"I wouldn't involve myself in choosing a leader for the Ulster
Unionist Party. They'd be trying to work out whether I was trying to
sell them a pup or not.

He added: "Why would I concern myself with whether the Ulster Unionist
Party take a reject from the Westminster election or somebody who is
so unelectable that they were appointed to the House of Lords?"

The UUP now has one MP, compared to nine Democratic Unionists.

Leadership contest

The Ulster Unionist Party's sole remaining MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon, has
ruled herself out of the leadership contest, citing family

The new leader will be elected at a special meeting of the party's
ruling council on 24 June.

Until then three prominent members are in charge - party president
Lord Rogan, assembly member Sir Reg Empey and its only MP, Lady Sylvia

Potential candidates could include Sir Reg, David McNarry or Lord
Maginnis, possibly with Basil McCrea.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/28 08:20:11 GMT


Rabbitte Attacks Aer Lingus Sellout Decision

By Paul O'Brien

LABOUR leader Pat Rabbitte last night criticised the Government
decision to sell off a majority stake in Aer Lingus as his party's
annual conference got under way in Tralee, Co Kerry.

In doing so, however, he exposed one of the key differences between
Labour and Fine Gael, the party with which he wants to form a pre-
election pact.

Although it is concerned with other aspects of the Government's
aviation package, Fine Gael has voiced no opposition to the sale of
the Aer Lingus stake. Labour is firmly opposed to it, however.

"The sellout of Aer Lingus is a shameful decision," Mr Rabbitte told
delegates in his opening address at the Brandon Hotel.

"How soon we forget the lessons of Eircom, where the shares were
accumulated, the debt was parked, and the assets sold off.

"I have no doubt that in the fullness of time, it will be added to the
ever-growing book of evidence about the monumental incompetence and
arrogance of this Government."

To applause from delegates, he stressed that ceding majority control
of the airline was not in the national interest.

Announcing Labour was now "in general election mode", Mr Rabbitte also
criticised other aspects of the Government's record, including its
failure to provide social and affordable housing to those most in
need. The Government is "discredited, arrogant and out of touch", he

This morning, Mr Rabbitte will seek party approval of a motion which
would grant him the power to form a pre-election pact with Fine Gael.

Opposition to this strategy is led by Labour vice-chairman Henry
Haughton, who believes, as do several other senior members, that the
party should fight the general election independently.

Mr Haughton has suggested the party should look to form a coalition
government with Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin instead of Fine Gael.

However, Mr Rabbitte has already stated his opposition to entering
into power with either Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin. And he re-emphasised
his standpoint last night not only by criticising the Government, but
by laying the blame for the impasse in the peace process at Sinn
Féin's door.

"There should be no room for any misunderstanding about the primary
cause for this," he said. "Yes, the continuing obduracy and bigoted
utterings of some members of the DUP, including their leader, have
damaged the prospects for an agreement that can be sustained over

"But the cynical manoeuvring of Sinn Féin has driven deep wedges into
the peace process. They have used the process as a tool to increase
their own influence.


Reaction To Belfast Car Death

Car crime victims have refused to show any pity for a teenager killed
driving a hijacked vehicle in Belfast.

By:Press Association and UTV

Stephen McDade, 17, died in a six-car pile-up that also left two young
men in the stolen vehicle critically injured.

The crash happened on the Boucher Road in south Belfast less than an
hour after a woman`s car had been seized.

It brought back harrowing memories for Kevin Fitzpatrick, whose wife
Dana, 28, and eight-year-old son Kevin Daniel were killed by so-called
joyriders in north Belfast in December 2000.

Mr Fitzpatrick, an activist with the Families Bereaved Through Car
Crime lobby group, expressed sympathy for relatives of Mr McDade, of
Salisbury Avenue, north Belfast.

But he insisted: "I don`t feel any sorrow for him.

"He knew the risk when he got into that stolen vehicle.

"He killed himself on this occasion but it could so easily have been
somebody`s brother, sister, mother or father.

"These people are playing a dangerous game, it`s like Russian
roulette, and on this occasion he killed himself."

Six other people suffered injuries in last night`s crash. Two of them
remain in a critical condition in hospital.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it was not chasing the
stolen car at the time of the accident.

Nevertheless, the Police Ombudsman has been informed and is to carry
out an investigation.

The car was hijacked from Botanic Avenue, close to the centre of the
city, 45 minutes before the crash and had been used in a till snatch
from a filling station in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast.

The Boucher Road, an area of car showrooms and retail outlets, was
closed for several hours after the collision.

Despite the crash, police chiefs insisted the menace was lessening.

Chief Inspector Peter Farrar said: "Car crimes have come down by
almost a half what it was three to four years ago.

"The community and police are working very strongly to make this


Sinn Féin Conference On EU Constitution Begins In Dublin

Published: 28 May, 2005

Sinn Féin's major two-day conference on the implications on the
proposed EU Constitution will begin this morning at 9.30am in the
Irish Film Institute on Eustace Street in Dublin.

The conference will begin with a session on what is actually contained
in the EU Constitution and this will be addressed by a number of
leading academics. This will be followed by a panel discussion with
MEPs from across Europe.

Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald will deliver a keynote address to the
conference at lunchtime setting out Sinn Féin‚s opposition to the EU
Constitution and announcing details of a major campaign, north and
south, against its ratification.


Elegant Equations

(Filed: 29/05/2005)

Patrick Skene Catling reviews A Game with Sharpened Knives by Neil

Schadenfreude is an ignoble, perversely alluring indulgence; however,
every reader who enjoys imagining the suffering of others will relish
this account of exile, intellectual blockage, adultery and unwanted
pregnancy amid the discomforts and anxieties of neutral Ireland during
the Second World War.

Neil Belton winds the fiction of his ingenious novel round a template
of reality. His protagonist is a historical figure, Erwin Schrödinger,
the Austrian physicist who won the Nobel Prize in 1933 but was banned
from teaching in Vienna after Anschluss. Threatened by the Nazi
academic establishment, he called science "a game with sharpened
knives". Eamon de Valera, the first Prime Minister of the Republic of
Ireland, who believed himself to be one of only 10 people in the world
to understand Einsteinian mathematics, invited Schrödinger to Dublin
early in "The Emergency", as the Irish euphemised the war. An admirer
of an elegant equation that the physicist had devised in his vain
quest for a unified field theory, de Valera offered him a place in
Ireland's new Institute of Advanced Studies.

Schrödinger is a grateful refugee and what a fictitious character
describes as "a randy old man". He eventually arrives in Dublin with
his wife, his mistress and their daughter, and soon becomes involved
with a second mistress locally, a young Irish actress.

Schrödinger and his unhappy dependants are accommodated in a small
house of turf fires and cold linoleum in suburban Clontarf. In Ireland
then, the Roman Catholic Church was all-powerful. Its anathemas,
beyond appeal, make him feel he has moved from one dictatorship to
another. There are abstruse passages in the novel explaining what he
is trying to accomplish scientifically (they could have been
contributed by Stephen Hawking), and the rest explains why he finds
work impossible. He encounters some mysterious losers, including a
black marketeer who smuggles unreliable condoms from the North.

Ireland did not suffer the casualties and damage of belligerents,
except for a minor, possibly accidental air raid on Dublin for which
the German embassy denied responsibility. The country felt even more
isolated than usual. There was widespread poverty, and the gloom was
not relieved by any sense of heroism.

Many Irish storytellers have a Russian ability to write of depression;
Neil Belton, a Dubliner who lives in London, is an expert. He writes
of dreariness with beautiful clarity that makes it as exhilarating as
a mid-winter swim in Dublin Bay.
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