IT HAS been more than ten years since the original ‘Calendar Girls’ took their clothes off to raise funds for charity, but now there is a new calendar that forms part of a campaign to have fluoride removed from the country’s public water supply system.
Skibbereen town councillor, Karen Coakley of Fine Gael, and Clonakilty town councillor, Anne Cullinane of Fianna Fáil, together with Denise Brassil – who is the aunt of the well-known anti-fluoridation campaigner, Aisling Fitzgibbon, aka ‘the girl against fluoride’ – feature in the new calendar that has just gone on release.
Karen Coakley together with her party colleague, Brendan McCarthy, have been campaigning on this issue for quite some time: In April, Brendan tabled an anti-fluoridation motion at the April meeting of Skibbereen Town Council – a motion that found its way into the pages of Hot Press.
The campaigning journalist, Adrienne Murphy, highlighted Ireland’s controversial fluoridation policy in a two-page spread in the May 8th edition of the popular national magazine, complete with photographs of Brendan and Karen.
Both councillors have been to the forefront of the West Cork campaign against the obligatory use of fluoride in the nation’s water supply and they received the full backing of Skibbereen Town Council when they called for an immediate cessation to the practice.
Fianna Fáil’s Anne Cullinane confirmed to The Southern Star that Clonakilty Town Council fully supported the Skibbereen Town Council motion and she paid tribute to Bandon Town Council for also raising the issue by requesting a review of the practice.
Anne pointed out that Ireland is the only country in Europe that continues to fluoridate public water supplies and she described the practice as being ‘an insult to our intelligence.
‘We are told that the fluoride is being added to protect our dental health but there is a growing body of scientific research that links fluoride to thyroid dysfunction, asthma, autism and neurological disorders,’ she said.
The Fianna Fáil councillor said she, and her colleagues on Clonakilty Town Council, take exception to the fact that the practice is mandatory and they wrote to the Minister for Health and the Department of Environment asking if individual local authorities could ‘opt-out’ of the practice, but the Minister for Health told them he could not accede to their request. Anne Cullinane said: ‘This is an unnecessary practice. I am absolutely opposed to it. And I hope more and more people will join the campaign to have fluoride taken from the country’s public water supply.’
Although Skibbereen, Clonakilty or Bandon town councils do not have the power to prohibit the practice, they did take a stand on the issue and forwarded Mr McCarthy’s motion to every local authority in the country.
Commenting on the launch of the new calendar – the proceeds of which will help to fund expert witnesses who are travelling to Dublin to give evidence in a High Court action being taken by Aisling Fitzgibbon against the Irish government – Karen said: ‘This is an important issue because the risks involved to public health by the mass medication of the population have been proven: they are simply too great to continue to ignore.’
Karen also called on people to familiarise themselves with a report written by a local environmental scientist, Declan Waugh, entitled ‘Human Toxicity, Environmental Impact and Legal Implications of Water Fluoridation”.
She said: ‘His report raises many questions about the risks involved and it would be my opinion that any risk is too great a risk.’ Commenting on the interest that the calendar has already generated, Karen said: ‘Anything that highlights the seriousness of this issue has got to be a good thing.
People now know about fluoride because of it and they have started to question the impact mass fluoridation is having on their health.’ Karen said: ‘It is also important to note that Richie Ryan, a former Fine Gael TD, minister for finance, MEP and solicitor, took a constitutional case in 1963 to prevent the government from putting fluoride in the nation’s water supply. Unfortunately, he was not successful, so 50 years on the campaign continues.’