Members of the Bray Civil Defence spend 48 hours in a sealed room attempting to simulate living as survivors of a nuclear war.
Civil Defence members Dave Cross, Willie Morton, Eamon Waldron and Michael Wafer volunteer to spend a weekend in a bricked off room underneath the old courthouse in Bray County Wicklow. The four will have no electricity or natural light.
The exercise is a mock up for what would happen if there is a nuclear war in Europe that could lead to radioactive fallout and mobilisation of the Civil Defence. It is the first exercise of its kind in Ireland.
Civil Defence officer Bill Downes explains how the volunteers will spend 48 hours in the refugee room with just candles and a torch for light, army rations and a chemical toilet. Volunteer Dave Cross is positive about the sparse rations,
It’s a good time to start me diet.
The only outside contact the volunteers have during the experiment is a simulated RTÉ broadcast fed to them on the hour.
Bill Downes says the Civil Defence is always trying to engage and inform the public,
We don't say that we are offering a solution to nuclear war but certainly we can offer the public advice on how they could in the event of radioactive fallout, minimise the effects of that fallout.
With the exercise complete Dave Cross feels it was a worthwhile experience although he did hit a low point for a few hours on the Saturday. Willie Morton says they operated on a shift system to listen to the radio broadcast but time passed quicker when they were together for meals. For Mike Wafer it was like returning to a rural way of life
You've no lights and people actually talk to each other again.
Minister for the Environment Liam Kavanagh believes it is important for Irish people to know how to prepare for a nuclear war. While Wicklow County Manager Brian Johnston believes dealing with a direct hit would be difficult, but in a fall out situation there would be a high level of survival as there are people with expertise and leadership on hand.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 14 January 1985. The reporter is Alasdair Jackson.