6th August 2003

58 years ago today, the people of the Japanese city of Hiroshima and
their city were obliterated by the first atom bomb ever used. It was
launched by the war leaders of the United States allegedly to hasten the
end of Japanese resistance, already about to crumble, but in reality to
show the world which state was from now on the world's most powerful.

A number of states now also have nuclear weapons and the whole world
is in danger - in stark peril indeed - of an appallingly gruesome death
by a nuclear weapon, if some arrogant national leader decides to settle
his country's differences with another by using a weapon of

Two very much praised films recently revealed the ghastly massacres
perpetrated by both sides in the American War for Independence and in
the German campaign against Russia in the second World War. They did
not however inform viewers that had the leaders involved had nuclear
weapons, they would certainly have used them : Europe would have been a
desert and Ireland itself full of disease-ridden inhabitants.

I am sure that if the majority of Irish people were fully informed about
the deadly danger humanity would be in if one of its numerous
disagreements were allowed to lead into the horrors of nuclear war they
would take action. They would quickly and efficiently take steps to get
an international front against nuclear weapons going. Without such a
front, we are in deadly danger of the next international crisis turning
into a nuclear war.

Fortunately history has shown time and time again that when devoted
human beings are moved to action, they can take dramatically effective
steps to deal with disaster.

Before the 18th century shipwrecks were common in all oceans and seas
and there was no organisation anywhere to help the shipwrecked . Their
usually inevitable death was supposed to be an incurable act of Fate.
Then in various parts of the world, chiefly in Europe, in the 18th
century, intelligent groups in seaside communities got together and
built or bought a lifeboat to be launched by volunteers to go to the
rescue of local shipwrecks. Some of the most famous seamen of the time
said that in certain conditions Dublin port was the most dangerous in
the whole world to enter or leave because of the destructive power of
the Irish Sea.

The last action of the parliament abolished by the infamous Act of Union
of 1800, was to instruct the port of Dublin to set up one of the very
first coordinated lifeboat services in the world, under pressure from
voters along the coast from Bray to Howth, horrified at the number of
corpses they were expected to salve from Dublin Bay's seashore after
every easterly gale.

In 1803, 2 centuries ago exactly, the first Dublin Bay lifeboat station
was opened in what is now Dun Laoghaire, organised and manned by local
volunteers willing to take on one of the greatest crises of their time.

The same spirit could and must take on a danger greater than unrelieved
shipwreck - that of merciless, atomic nuclear weapons and politicians
willing to use them.



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