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The Greens backing Ireland's importation of nuclear energy is just too delicious for words

Dear me, I don't think I've enjoyed a government statement more. The announcement that the EU is to provide €200m to build an electricity connector between Wales and Ireland should logically mean that the nuclear debate is over here. For Ireland will finally be using atomic energy -- and not with the Greens in fervent and tumultuous opposition, but actually in government: it is all too delicious for words.

However, maybe we will have, yet again, an Irish solution to an Irish problem. After all, we have so many under-employed customs officers, who once upon a time spent their days happily rooting through people's bags looking for condoms and 'Playboy' magazines to confiscate and take back home.

Perhaps we could sit them down at the landfall of the connector and get them to examine each electron as it shuffles through immigration, to see if it was nuclear-generated or not. Electrons can be pesky little things, mind you, and they're not always open and honest about their origins. So it will be up to Holy Ireland's customs officers to devise a technology which can detect clean electrons (created by St Patrick's holy waves, or St Brigid's blessed wind) and usher them through, meanwhile identifying dirty, nuclear-generated electrons to be sent back to perfidious Sellafield-loving Albion, where they belong.

You see, opposition to nuclear energy isn't Just Another Policy for the Greens. It is a core belief. John Gormley identifies the campaign against the proposed nuclear power station at Carnsore Point 30 years ago as the starting point of the Green Party. Carnsore was the Last Supper of Irish Greenery, the place of its first consecration. For the Greens to be in the government that makes the decision to import nuclear electricity from Britain is rather like the Vatican introducing nude, pole-dancing nuns as the high-point of the Mass.

Yet had Dessie O'Malley been successful in his attempt to introduce nuclear power to Ireland all those decades ago, we would now have the lowest carbon dioxide emissions of any country in Europe, and be an eco-model for others. Moreover, the capital costs of building a nuclear plant at Carnsore would long since have been paid off, and today we would have the cheapest electricity in Europe.

And thus it is that the people who successfully campaigned against our going nuclear are now in the very government which has decided to import nuclear-generated electricity from Britain. It is all too, too delicious for words.

So, it is with a heavy heart and a feeble quill that I write what follows, (for normally when I hear myself agreeing with a Green policy I take two aspirin, a hot whiskey and retire to bed, and by morning I have normally recovered). The National Coursing Meeting at Clonmel is upon us, and I must declare that I share the Green loathing of hare-coursing.

Now I'm not against "blood sports", as they're called. I've been on enough hunts to know that little enough bloodshed usually results. A healthy fox will out-run and out-guile a pack of hounds, creatures of quite ludicrous stupidity, and any fox they do happen to catch is so old, slow and infirm that they are thereby sparing it the agonies of a protracted death from hunger or exposure. You and I would be lucky to die as swiftly as the fox that is caught by hounds. Much the same is true of stag hunts.

Hare-coursing is different. The hare is not chased in its natural environment, as the fox and the stag are. No, the hares are captured and held in numbers, in gross violation of the animal's solitary nature. I do not know that the allegation by anti-coursing activists such as John Fitzgerald that hares can die from "stress myopathy" in such captivity is correct, but I am prepared to believe it.

Certainly, there is nothing remotely natural about greyhounds pursuing a hare which has just been released from a highly stressful captivity into an enclosed space, until they have bundled it over, and perhaps even killed it. (Yes, muzzles notwithstanding, the impact-speeds alone can kill a hare).

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Some animal sports have a rough rustic logic to them, being mirrors of the way nature was before mankind tamed the landscape and rid the fields and hillsides of bears and wolves. The hunt imitates the wolf-pack, though in a rather ornamental manner, and in the DNA of the fox and the deer is a readiness to detect predators, and to escape from them, using speed, agility and intelligence.

But other rural "sports" are in gross violation of nature. Badger-baiting is the most evil of them, but at least that is done by depraved men in private, who probably know, deep within themselves, that they are sick and disgusting perverts. Hare-coursing, on the other hand, is a public event, supported by decent people, which makes it all the more incomprehensible, though no less horrible.

The Greens and me, in agreement on something: I'm not sure who is the more uncomfortable. But after the nuclear turnaround, why, see next week's headlines: "Minister Gormley opens coursing festival at Clonmel."


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