Recently-released government files from the early 80s reveal how Northern Ireland planned to cope with a possible nuclear strike, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

The enormous file outlines in detail what would happen during the countdown to a nuclear apocalypse, including: forecasts of how a vast area would be destroyed, plans for special emergency powers allowing ministers to control industry, requisition land and seize whatever necessary, and details of a huge emergency feeding operation, using supplies secretly stored around the province.


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The plans, drawn up in 1981, also state how people should be encouraged to stay calm before the attack and describes how national announcements would advise the public to carry on with their day-to-day activities.

"The general aim in the crisis period preceding a nuclear attack would be to keep disruption of the social, economic and industrial life of the country to an absolute minimum," says one document.

The officials planning for an attack on Ulster believed Belfast a likely target and reported that a three megaton bomb was "considered a likely-sized weapon."

Another document states that in the case of a nuclear attack, central government would end.

"On the current planning assumptions if an attack took place in Belfast the major Government offices in the Stormont estate and the city centre would be destroyed either by blast or fire," it continues.

A Northern Ireland Central Control would provide the highest level of Government, while a regional commissioner, probably the Secretary of State, would have the power to regulate all goods and services.

The documents describe how special powers would be put enacted.

"These would include powers authorising ministers to control industry, requisition land and buildings and acquire articles of all descriptions," one adds.

Information about nuclear bursts and resulting fallout was received through a network of underground monitoring posts and assessed at the UK's Warning and Monitoring Organisation in Lisburn, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

The sophisticated electronic systems would provide "a minimum of a few minutes' warning," noted one report.


Belfast, Northern Ireland