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Dublin City Council to table Government to abandon water flouridation       printable version
07 Oct 2014: posted by the editor - Ireland

By Owen Boyden
Dublin City Council's  last night (6 October), debated and passed a motion calling for the immediate cessation of water fluoridation in Ireland. DCC, the largest Council in the country (per capita over 500,000 people), has now adopted an anti-fluoride position and will be calling on the Government to end Ireland's mandatory water fluoridation policy with immediate effect.

The motion, tabled by Cllr Anthony Connaghan (SF) "... calls on the Government to repeal the Health (Fluoridation of Water Supplies) Act 1960 and to make it an offence for anyone to add fluoride or any derivatives to the public water supply."  It received cross party support from Council colleagues.

The anti fluoride motion was tabled last July but due to two DCC meetings that were subsequently adjourned, the matter only arose for debate last night. Following intense lobbying from the IDA (irish Dentists Authority), WCFFC & FFT (West Cork Fluoride Free Campaign and Fluoride Free Towns) and other interests representing both sides of the debate, including Prof June Nunn (Dean of the School of Dental Science TCD, Dublin), Prof Martin Kinirons (Dean of Cork University Dental School and Hospital), Dr John Walsh (Dean, Faculty of Dentistry, RCSI) and Dr Peter Gannon (President Irish Dental Association), the motion was only marginally passed by 22 to 20 but will significantly add momentum to the national effort with another huge political step achieved by those campaigning for clean and safe water, consequently becoming a bigger political strain for the Government after the County Council's of Laois and Cork took similar positions earlier in the year.

Cllr Anthony Connaghan (SF) who proposed the anti fluoride motion who's position was adopted by Dublin City Council was not available for comment but in an interview last July stated members of The Expert Body had previously attended a Dublin City Council meeting but only on the condition that they would not take any questions during their presentation!

The Lord Mayor of Dublin City, Cllr Christy Burke said he listened to both sides of the debate and abstained but acknowleged that the motion passed.

Cllr Paul McAuliffe, leader of the Fianna Fail DCC delegation upon being contacted for comment said he voted against Cllr Connaghan's motion and supported a second fluoride motion tabled by his FF party colleague, Cllr David Costello where the continued use of fluoride in the public water was proposed but failed to receive majority support.

Cllr Kieran Binchy, leader of the Fine Gael DCC delegation was not available for comment.

Cllr David Costello (FF) who proposed a motion in favour of fluoride said he supported the continued use of fluoride in the public water supply and supported the benefits this had for the people of Ireland. His motion however failed to receive necessary support of the council to adopt his motion.

Ms Marie Walsh, representative for the IDA (Irish Dentists Association) upon being contacted regarding DCC's motion, stated the IDA had no comment.

Owen Boyden, Director of the West Cork Fluoride Free Campaign said: "DCC passing an anti fluoride motion puts the Irish Government under renewed political pressure to end their isolated and dangerous mandatory public water fluoridation policy which results in the medication without consent of the entire Irish population and continues to cause widespread cosmetic damage (fluorosis) to thousands of people around the country. Not one other European Government maintain a similar policy due to health, environmental, legal or ethical concerns. Violating human rights to consent before medication, bodily integrity and breaching European food and medicinal product directives, the policy continues to adversely effect public health in Ireland and poses one the biggest threats to our very valuable food and drinks industry the country has ever seen."

The policy, enacted after a constitutional challenge taken by Gladys Ryan (Ryan v AG 1964) who claimed her right and that of her children to bodily integrity would be violated as a result of the practice was overruled on several grounds including the condition and on the basis of scientific evidence presented to Justice Kenny at the time, that fluorosis would not occur or in Justice Kenny's own words: "I accept the view that the mottling of the teeth of ten per cent of the children in Ireland will not be an indication of fluorosis or of any damage or harm having been done to the children's teeth by the fluoride ion in the water which they have drunk." Unfortunately the IDA (Irish Dentists Association) reported in 2012 that 38% of 15 year olds throughout the state suffer from cosmetic damage yet neither 'The Expert Body' who are charged with monitoring the policy or the IDA continue and fail to raise the alarm with catastrophic consequences for the Irish populace.

The legislation which has been a source of controversy throughout the country ever since commencing, has seen an unprecedented wave of opposition grow in 2014 with Councils representing well over 1,000,000 people passing motions calling for an end to the practice. With local towns in West Cork leading the way including Bantry, Macroom and Kinsale who passed anti fluoride motions earlier in the year, the country also saw Cobh, Balbriggan, and Wicklow Town Council's before being abolished pass motions and more substantially Cork CC, Laois CC and now Dublin CC all passing motions, the policy continue to be a stress to the Fine Gael / Labour Government who sanction the policy's implementation as a "major plank of public health policy".

In light of the Government only in June (2014) reneging on a promise given to Councillors ahead of Cork County Council's unanimous motion last March to hold an independent international expert review and more seriously, Fianna Fail passing a motion at their Ard Fheis in May where they joined ranks with Sinn Fein, other parties and independents in calling for an end to the practice, the issue is likely to be a source of political fall-out for Fine Gael and Labour in the run up to the General Election planned for 2016.

Local public interest in the matter is likely to continue with WCFFC maintaining the support of every County Councillor (18) West of a line between Kinsale and Macroom and every Town Council (six) in the region having passed motions before being abolished as well as receiving backing from the country's largest County Council last March.

Bantry and Clonakilty also took the bold move earlier in the year by declaring fluoride free status as part of the growing Fluoride Free Towns initiative, a national project that has a similar ethos to that of the well known Fair Trade movement. In each of these two local West Cork Towns, at least six businesses have each installed reverse osmosis water filters enabling them to serve safe, fluoride free food and beverages to their customers.

Participating fluoride free businesses in West Cork include Organico, Trawl & Trend, The Fish Kitchen, Wokabout, The Mariner Bar, The Fernhill House Hotel; The Lettercollum Kitchen Project; The Winery; Betty Brosnans, Coffee Mezzo, Jagged Edge and The Sticky Bun.

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