Bunker down: Skibb ideal ‘safe haven’ in nuclear war

It’s deemed to be one of the safest places in the world if a nuclear war breaks out.

And the people of a West Cork town would be more than glad to welcome anybody from Guam or North Korea who’s worried about the possibility of that happening.

That’s according to a county councillor who said there was a good reason why the head of Swiss military intelligence chose to build a nuclear bunker in Skibbereen.

Colonel Albert Bachmann decided that the West Cork area was one of the least likely places in the world to suffer from nuclear fall-out.

In the early 1970s, the spymaster purchased the imposing 200-acre Liss Ard estate on the outskirts of Skibbereen and built a bunker to house a Swiss government in exile, if a nuclear war broke out in Europe.

He installed a hi-tech computer system in the building and also built specialised vaults to store Switzerland’s massive gold reserves, which would have been smuggled out of the country in advance of nuclear war.

Cllr Joe Carroll said the area’s remoteness made it a safer place than most in these uncertain times.

He also pointed out that another bunker was opened at the former town hall site.

“We are a neutral country. The people of West Cork are very hospitable and we’d invite the people of Guam and North Korea with open arms. The people of Guam are a lovely, friendly lot and they would fit in very well down here,” he said.

Mr Carroll made his comments as the war of words hotted up between US President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un.

With the US and South Korea due to start joint military exercises today, North Korea warned that the 10-day drills were “reckless behaviour driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.”

Pyongyang also declared that its army can target the US anytime, and neither Guam, Hawaii nor the US mainland can “dodge the merciless strike”.

As the war of words escalated, Mr Carroll said: “Anyone from North Korea would also be welcome here in West Cork, but I’d be worried that they might not be able to get out of that country,” he added.

After the uncertainty surrounding a possible Soviet/American nuclear war subsided in the early 1980s, the Swiss government decided that it was unlikely to need Liss Ard.

Mr Bachmann then sold the property, but having fallen in love with West Cork decided to spend his retirement there. He died in the region in 2011.

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