Irish protestors due at opening of MOX plant

 
A group of Irish protesters and politicians are traveling to Cumbria in Northern England to protest at the opening of the mixed-oxide (MOX) reprocessing plant at Sellafield tomorrow.

The protest group, Gluaiseacht(Motion for Global Justice), was formed by students from universities and colleges which came together in response to the alleged threat from MOX plant.

Green Party TD Mr John Gormley is also with the group.

A demonstration of chanting and singing is planned by the 80-strong group from early tomorrow and a spokesman hinted they may also stage a sit-down protest.

Fine Gael senator Mr Fergus O'Dowd, traveling with the group, criticised the political stance taken by the Government in its efforts to stop the commissioning of the plant. "The legal approach was as strong as the courts allowed, but we could have applied more political pressure," he said.

He added safety precautions introduced by British Nuclear Fuels after September 11th were not as strict as those protecting other possible terrorist targets in the US.

On Monday the Government made a submission to the Hamburg-based International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) as part of its attempt to prevent Sellafield's MOX plant coming into operation.

The Government also pledged to mount a full-scale legal effort next year following a preliminary ruling by ITLOS in early December after the body decided Ireland does have a prima faciecase to argue against the plant.

A full hearing of the case will go before a five-strong arbitration panel, operating under the UN tribunal, early in the new year.

Last month an attempt to halt the MOX plant on the basis of cost failed. The High Court in Britain ruled against the case taken by environmental groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth claiming the cost of the plant could not be justified under EU law.

Separate proceedings under the terms of the OSPAR Convention (the Oslo/Paris accord governing protection of marine environments) are also under way.