Deputy Lord Mayor Speech at the Annual Hiroshima Commemoration, Friday, 6 August 2021, Merrion Square, Dublin 2
6 August 2021
Excellency, Mr Mitsuru Kitano, Japanese Ambassador to Ireland, Reverend Patrick Comerford, President of Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Dr David Hutchinson Edgar, Chair of Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Ms Kohata Kiatura, Political Attaché at the Japanese Embassy in Ireland and John Forde, Deputy Director, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Section Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
I want to thank you for the invitation to attend today to mark the 76th Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan on 6th August, 1945 followed three days later by a plutonium bomb in Nagasaki.
The atom bomb was intended to shorten the war in the Far East but at a terrible cost in human lives. In the process, it unveiled a new weapon not just of mass destruction but of potential annihilation of our entire civilisation. Thankfully, 76 years on, no further nuclear bomb has been dropped in the course of human conflict. However, a pall has hung over the world for more than three quarters of a century and remains the greatest threat to the future of humankind.
The Second World War was a time of mass destruction and Holocaust. A Third World War could be a time of human annihilation.
There are over 13,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, almost all of them more powerful than that dropped on Hiroshima on 6th August 1945 and which killed 80,000 people immediately, 140,000 by the end of the year and tens of thousands more were injured for life.
It is important that we show our solidarity today with the Japanese people, acknowledge the horror of what befell Hiroshima 76 years ago and pledge to continue the campaign for nuclear disarmament.
I want to pay tribute to all of the members of CND, particularly people like David and Patrick, and so many others who have dedicated so much of their lives and energy to campaigning for nuclear disarmament.
I want to acknowledge Ireland’s role in nuclear disarmament. I am proud of our prominent role. Ireland was the first country to propose an International Treaty on Nuclear Weapons in 1958 and was the first country, ten years later to sign and ratify the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Unfortunately, while much progress has been made on highlighting the dangers of nuclear proliferation, nuclear disarmament has not happened and nuclear weapons are to be found not only in the USA and Russia but also in China, France, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Israel and the unstable State of North Korea.
But the campaign has continued and Ireland, together with six other countries, proposed a new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017 which came into force in January 2021. It is now contrary to international law to “develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”
The value of this Treaty can be seen in the recent announcement by the Irish National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that it has withdrawn investment funds from companies that are involved in the nuclear weapons industry.
I applaud the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, of which Irish CND is a member, for their campaigning role in getting the new Treaty passed at the United Nations and for which they were awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
I wish also to acknowledge the role being played by Japan in campaigning for nuclear disarmament. Every new initiative is a reason for hope.
The founding of the Mayors for Peace in 1982 by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to campaign for nuclear disarmament was an important such initiative.
As of 2021, 8,037 cities in 165 countries have joined. I am delighted that Dublin was the first Irish City to join which we did 25 years ago.
As Deputy Lord Mayor, I want to take this opportunity to reconfirm the commitment of the City of Dublin and its citizens to the Mayors for Peace and to welcome its renewed vision for a peaceful and sustainable world free from the threat of nuclear weapons.
Finally, before I finish I wish to compliment the Japanese Ambassador and his country for the excellent manner in which they have hosted the Tokyo Olympics.
Cllr Joe Costello, Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin