Nuclear Weapon

Time for pension fund to stop investing in nuclear weapons companies

Posted September 20th, 2012

Today I moved my third piece of legislation in Dail Eireann since being elected. This is a Bill prohibiting investment of state funds in companies that make nuclear weapons. The Bill requires divestment of some 10 million euro that the NPRF currently has invested in nuclear weapon companies (check out more details here: Ireland, Irish Finance and the Nuclear Weapons Industry). This is to coincide with UN International Peace Day (Friday 21 September).

The Bill is entitled the Nuclear Weapons (Prohibitions of Investments) Bill 2012 and prohibits investment of public moneys in companies that manufacture, test or maintain nuclear weapons, their components or delivery systems. It also requires divestment from entities or funds that invest in such companies (check out the Bill itself: Nuclear Weapons (Prohibition of Investments) Bill 2012, and the Bill’s memo: Nuclear Weapons (Prohibition of Investments) Bill 2012-memo).

While the National Pension Reserve Fund is depleted, it is still active, to the tune of more than five billion euro. This is money invested on behalf of all of us and at present about 10 million euro of that money is invested in companies that are involved in manufacturing nuclear weapons, components for nuclear weapons or their delivery vehicles.

It is not responsible investment, and it is in complete contradiction to our proven foreign policy record in this area. It is time to put our money where our mouth is insofar as our commitment to international disarmament and non-proliferation is concerned. This is money that the state is investing on our behalf and I don’t agree with it.

The pension reserve fund should have an ethical investment policy and framework and this Bill is an important step in that direction. It follows a similar prohibition in this country for investments in companies that produce cluster bombs and anti-personnel mines. I’m hoping Minister Noonan will consider adopting the provisions in this Bill alongside any new financial measures brought in with the budget for next year.

International Peace Day is a day singled out by the United Nations for individuals to commit practical acts of peace. In publishing this Bill I thought this would be a good way for the Oireachtas to play its part. The threat posed by the existence of nuclear weapons is not something that has gone away. In fact it is potentially growing. We have a historical duty to continue to work towards international disarmament and non-proliferation and it is important that this Dail meets that challenge.

Seeing such a policy adopted has been a goal of mine since the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament brought the issue of unethical investment to my attention and I would like to thank David Hutchinson Edgar of the Irish CND for helping with the Bill and for all the important work he is doing in this area on our behalf.