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Minister for Health raised constituent’s Sellafield concerns

On 4 October last, Minister Harris wrote to Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan, giving details of a letter he had received from a Co Wicklow constituent who raised concerns over the Sellafield plant in Cumbria, UK.

The correspondence, with the constituent’s name redacted, was seen by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request.

“This letter to you is in reference to a new representation on behalf of [redacted], Co Wicklow, who is quite concerned about Sellafield and its potential harm,” Minister Harris wrote to Minister Flanagan. “[Redacted] reports that the recent Panorama programme about the current state of Sellafield is very worrying.”

Minister Harris attached his constituent’s letter, which highlighted issues raised in the BBC’s Panorama programme broadcast in September.

The episode (‘Sellafield’s Nuclear Safety Failings’) was described by the BBC as an investigation into “the shocking state of Britain’s most hazardous nuclear site”.

In his letter, Minister Harris asked his cabinet colleague for an update on “the current position”.

Minister Flanagan passed the letter to Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Environment Denis Naughten for response.

Minister Naughten replied to Minister Harris on 2 November, writing: “Having discussed this matter with the relevant officials in my Department, it is not considered that the investigation by the Panorama programme has uncovered any new significant matters which would cause concern for Ireland.

“What Ireland wants to see in relation to Sellafield is that the current levels of progress being made on the site on the various projects dealing with the legacy issues is maintained and that there is continued commitment, financial and otherwise, by the British Government to this work.”

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