Posted on 12th February 2022

After the battering we have all had while the pandemic raged and then to be weighed down by thoughts that the world could be burning, threatening the existence of humanity itself, some really good news would be welcome. Now we have it, through what is described as the “Holy Grail” of power generation, nuclear-fusion. Before you start thinking Sellafield, Chernobyl or nuclear waste, think again. This process produces only a small amount of short-lived radio-active waste. However, and what is particularly breath-taking, it has the capacity to produce almost limitless power. This to put it in prospective, the tokamak, the nuclear-fusion reactor, a donut shaped crucible which contains a magnetic field, has so far only managed to run for 5 seconds, but the results from a facility near Oxford have excited scientists from around the world. In the words of one “ We demonstrated that we can create a mini-star and hold it there for 5 seconds and get high performance which really takes us into a new realm”. Research being carried out at MIT in the States show that nuclear-fusion will be generating electricity within the next decade. Then just to re-affirm that a revolutionary change is coming, investors Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are pouring billions into the funds for nuclear-fusion energy machines. The Manhattan project and the atomic bomb was how all this stuff began and the source of my childhood nightmares. Maybe now nuclear- fusion will allow me dream of an earth safe for my grandchildren.

Slane Castle

On the subject of safety what about the proposal to increase defence spending by 200% including the purchase of jet aircraft and naval vessels ? In the light of this, should we question whether it is appropriate for Simon Coveney to continue as Minister for Defence ? He is already Minister for Foreign Affairs and you would have thought that was sufficient to occupy the Cork Prince. He has been involved in a number of contentious episodes including the Zappone affair, which inflicted considerable damage to his reputation. In fact, even within the Blue Shirt ranks I detect a sense that Simon has moved beyond his sell-by date. Will Leo Varadkar keep him on when he becomes Taoiseach again, keeping in mind, of course, that Leo has to survive the Garda investigation of the leaking of a confidential document. If this defence review is going to be seriously undertaken, and most particularly if it is going to involve spending serious amounts of money, maybe it would be sensible to have a dedicated Minister rather than at present it being treated as an adjunct to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. This would I’m sure be a boost to army morale. It would also enable a fresh approach to be taken to the Women of Honour, who this week met with the President. I have certain concerns about such a leak in expenditure. As a neutral nation on the edge of Europe, I can see the absolute necessity of increasing expenditure on cyber security, making sure our armed forces are properly paid and well equipped, but when I hear talk of jets I say Why, What For. Gosh, we would be better off signing a defence pact with the Brits.

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