Building nuclear reactors in Ireland would be 'immoral' - Campaigner

The French Ambassador has suggest Ireland build small nuclear reactors to help meet net zero targets.
James Wilson
James Wilson

10.10 31 Jul 2023

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Building nuclear reactors in I...

Building nuclear reactors in Ireland would be 'immoral' - Campaigner

James Wilson
James Wilson

10.10 31 Jul 2023

Share this article

Building nuclear power plants in Ireland would be “immoral”, a leading anti-nuclear campaigner has claimed. 

The construction of a new Celtic Interconnector to France will mean Ireland exporting energy to continental Europe and importing French energy in the coming decades.

Much of France’s energy is generated from nuclear power plants and last week the French Ambassador to Ireland suggested the Irish Government consider building small modular nuclear reactions as part of its effort to reach net zero carbon emissions.


The production of nuclear power in Ireland was banned in 1999 by the Electricity Regulation Act and the Irish Anti-Nuclear Movement is keen to keep the ban in place.

“The intrinsic destruction of atomic matter is very, very dubious,” spokesperson Neil McCann told Newstalk Breakfast.

“Not just immoral; we’re at the moment engaged in major efforts to keep our planet in a state of order and a temperature where we can survive.

“So, why would we introduce ourselves to another risk?”

Mr McCann contrasted nuclear power, which he described as “very dangerous”, to wind turbines, which he said have been “very successful” in generating green energy.

View of the Nuclear Power Plant of Almaraz in Caceres. (Photo by Gustavo Valiente / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Last year, Russian forces shelled a nuclear power station in Ukraine and Mr McCann said this underlined the huge risk of building them.

“The other big risk with nuclear plants… is where there have been threats by the Russians… to use nuclear weapons in the course of the Ukraine war,” he said.

“There’s also been the risk of a conventional attack on the nuclear plants.”

UCC Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry William Revillle disagreed and said nuclear reactors are far safer than opponents make out.

“They’re not dangerous,” he said.

“Even the conventional nuclear industry isn’t dangerous.

“It has a much, much better safety record than the other means of generating power.”

Net zero

The Irish Government hopes to generate 80% of the nation’s energy from carbon neutral sources by 2030 and Professor Revillle said adding nuclear into the mix would help meet that target.

“The way we’re going, we’re showing no signs we’ll meet these targets,” he said.

“Why not use a proven technology for generating power? It’s been around a long time, it’s safe and the new modular reactors are certainly safe.

“They will work - so, why not employ them?”

Last year, then-Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath ruled out lifting the ban on nuclear power in Ireland.

“My own view and the view of the Government is that the future for Ireland is renewable energy,” he said.

“It’s not nuclear.”

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Main image: A nuclear power station. Picture by:

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