Tom McGurk called for a debate about nuclear power in yesterday's Sunday Business Post. On the same day the Sunday Tribune lead with a story reporting that the proposed design for new nuclear power stations in the UK is dangerously flawed. All of which is a useful reminder that when someone in Ireland says something needs to be 'debated' it usually means either a) that the matter is so contentious that there's no way it's going to be debated; or b) there is no point in debating the matter as everyone has made their minds up anyway.
As I read it the main danger facing the UK is not the design of their proposed new reactors but the fact that they have left it so late to build them. Which is dangerous for us as we'll be increasingly dependent on UK electricity to make up any shortfalls in our own generating capacity in the decade ahead. Though our economic collapse may have postponed that requirement for some time (there, I knew I'd find a silver lining ...)
But there is a bigger prize for Ireland in Britain's new found nuclear ambitions. In the short run, Irish construction companies should ensure they play their part in what will be the biggest construction programme on these islands for the next thirty years. Certainly a less belligerent, less ideological stance by the Irish government with regard to the UK's nuclear practices might help in that regard. However, the real opportunity lies in the medium to longer term as Irish construction and engineering specialists have the chance to learn a great deal about building and operating nuclear power stations before adopting an appropriate nuclear solution to our own energy needs in the next few decades.
That's if we're still not 'debating' it, of course ...