Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Irish Government urged to take role in
banning nuclear weapons

This report and these photographs appear in the September 2015 edition of the Church Review (Dublin and Glendalough), page 19:

Irish Government urged to take role in
banning nuclear weapons


The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ms Críona Ní Dhálaigh, the chair of Irish CND, Dr David Hutchinson-Edgar, and the President of Irish CND, Canon Patrick Comerford, at the Hiroshima Day commemoration in Merrion Square, Dublin.

The Irish Government has been urged to take a leading role in an international campaign to ban nuclear weapons. Speaking at the memorial for the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Dublin’s Merrion Square, the Revd Professor Patrick Comerford, President of the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said “a moral stance by Ireland can be effective” in bringing about change.

Canon Comerford said the “devastating effects of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seven decades ago provide a clear rationale for negotiating a ban.”

He said nine countries together hold more than 15,700 nuclear weapons – the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. “Together alone, the US and Russia have 14,700 of those nuclear weapons, and they have about 1,800 of those nuclear weapons on high-alert status … ready to be launched within minutes,” he said.

“Most of these weapons are many times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima this day 70 years ago,” he said. “A single nuclear warhead, if detonated on a large city, could kill millions of people, with effects that last for decades and generations.”

“The failure of the nuclear powers to disarm heightens the risk that other countries will acquire nuclear weapons. The only guarantee against the spread and use of nuclear weapons is to eliminate them without delay,” he told the gathering.

He pointed to the role of the Irish Naval Service in helping migrants in the Mediterranean as an example of effective moral stance by Ireland that can be effective, saying actions like these can “save lives and can challenge the unwillingness of others to act.”

He referred to the scene In Steven Spielberg’s movie Schindler’s List, in which Oskar Schindler is presented by the people he rescues with a gold ring inscribed with a quotation from the Talmud that says: “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”

This year’s memorial, organised by Irish CND, marked the 70th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Japan on August 6th, 1945, which killed an estimated 140,000 people in the first few weeks.

The ceremony, held by Irish CND, was attended by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ms Críona Ní Dhálaigh, who laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Cherry Tree planted in the park in 1980, and Mr Naoki Yoshimura, first secretary of the Japanese embassy in Dublin.

Mr Yoshimura echoed the call for nuclear disarmament on behalf of the Japanese government. “As the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings, Japan is making efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.”

The ceremony also featured performances by Irish and Japanese musicians, a reading by the poet Hugh McFadden, and addresses by the artist Robert Ballagh and the chair of Irish CND, Dr David Hutchinson-Edgar.

Representatives from the embassies of Austria, Egypt, South Africa, Norway, Russia and Mexico also attended.

The President of Irish CND, Canon Patrick Comerford, speaking at the Hiroshima Day commemoration in Merrion Square, Dublin.

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