Fluoride Action Network

A Very Irish Letter

Source: International Fluoride Information Network | July 8th, 2002
Location: Ireland

Dear All,

For those who need cheering up this monday morning, what better than a letter from Ireland. Satire at its best, shades of Jonathan Swift (born in Dublin in 1667, author of “Gulliver’s Travels”, 1726 and ” A Modest Proposal”, 1729). In fact, if you brought Swift back to life and gave him a medical degree and asked him to write about fluoridation, you might get Dr. Andrew Rynne. With something as preposterous as a potato famine or putting a known toxic substance ( and an industrial hazardous waste, to boot) into the drinking water of every citizen in your society, we need satire – badly. We can’t afford to offer the practice too much  respect, as if it was somehow a “reasonable” thing to do. It should have been laughed out of court years ago. The laughter is coming late, but let it ring loud and clear.

For those who missed the previous “missile” from Dr. Rynne (Irish Medical News) which led to the current offering, I have printed it after today’s letter.

As Jane Jones says, it would help if you can get someone to read this to you with an Irish accent.

Paul Connett.


Irish Medical News

July 8, 2002

Health Research Board “handouts”


by Dr. Andrew Rynne

In a very interesting letter to this paper (IMN, 24/6/02) Dr Ruth Barrington, Chief Executive of our Health Research Board (HRB) gives out to me and tells me not to be calling their research grants “handouts”. They are no such thing, she says.

As a clear example of just how research grants are not handouts, we are then cited the case of Prof Denis O’Mullane of University College Cork, where he recently received e500,000  (Euros, 1 euro is approximately 1 US$, PC) smackeroos by way of a grant from the HRB. But the letter tells us that the good Professor didn’t get it that easily. Oh no, there was genuine competition here, really up against it, the poor man was. Would you believe that before Prof O’Mullane walked away with his cool e0.5 million, he had to beat off no fewer that 103 other contenders for the big prize.

But it is even tougher than that to get a HRB grant. The letter tells us that: “For a prestigious research programme award from the HRB, each application was subjected to rigorous, international peer review by a panel of international experts.”

Oh be Janey, there you are now, and me thinking that these kind of things were easy. I must confess that I have no idea what any of that is supposed to mean, peer review and so on, but it sounds terribly painful, embarrassing even.

So, what was it, you might well wonder, that caused the UCC application to float to the top of all this tough competition and, along with 11 others, win the great prize, the ever-so-hard-to-get HRB grant.

You’d imagine now, wouldn’t you, what with all that peer review stuff and international panels and so on, that to get through all of that you’d want to be talking about something pretty compelling: a new and vital proposal, a dynamic, exciting research programme to seize the imagination and sway international panels and peers alike. Not at all. Would you hold on there now for a minute and take a grip.

All Prof OíMullane had to do was to submit a proposal for the study of the effects that fluoridating their drinking water had on the Irish peasantry over a 50-year period, circa the 1950s to date. And that was it; bang; you win the watch. Now you’re sucking diesel, says the international panel and reviewing peers. Well, you’re sucking fluoridated water anyway, which is much the same thing.

Did it matter at all that there are already reports of about 40,000 similar studies on this subject published in the peer review literature? Not at all; one more is exactly what we need. Or did it matter that the fluoride-quaffing citizens of this State had already forked out over £250,000 on a Forum on Fluoridation in which the recipient of this grant was involved in and whose report is now almost a year overdue? Not at all.

Give the man another half-a-million euros worth of taxpayers’ money and let him off there. We’ll get to the bottom of this old fluoridation thing yet, by God we will. Three million volunteers drinking the stuff three times a day for 50 years; I mean to say is this good or bad? The answer must be there somewhere. It is only a matter of finding it. And listen. There is none of your old Irish begrudgery here, you know. Not at all; the best of good luck to Prof Denis O’Mullane and to the Chief Executive of the Health Research Board, Dr Ruth Barrington. And here’s to them all ‘n  the international panel, and to each and every one of the reviewing peers.

Up Cork and the sky above it, that’s what I say. If you can’t beat them, join them. I am going to submit a few research proposals of my own to our HRB next year and who knows, maybe a lowly GP from Clane could be next to walk away with a cool half-a-million euro handout. Sorry, half-a-million euro research grant.

Why do I keep making that mistake? Let’s see now. Obviously, they like quaint and old-fashioned technologies like fluoridated water. Here’s a protocol summary for them. A single-blinded, randomised double cross-over clinical trial into the efficacy of large doses of syrup of figs in the management of infantile chronic constipation using 16 volunteers. That should be all right. Syrup of figs was all the rage about the same time as fluoridated water. But you need more than one. When you are submitting for a HRB prestigious research grant you need to throw in several proposals. You know what sticklers these international panels of peers can be. How about: a randomised double-blinded single crossover study into the efficiency and safety of large doses of orally-ingested ether for the expulsion of flatus.

I read in an old book that the expulsion of flatus was a most unfortunate side-effect in those given straight ether for the relief of toothache. I am only trying to turn misfortune into a virtue.

Or what about a clinical trial into the efficacy of deeply inhaled asbestos dust in the management of chronic snoring? Ah listen, leave me alone will you. There is money to be made here. When did you say was the closing date for Health Research Board applications?

Here is the correspondence to which Dr. Andrew Rhynne is responding, followed by his original article.

Research grant not a handout

From Dr Ruth Barrington, Chief Executive, Health Research Board

I refer to the article by Dr Andrew Rynne on water fluoridation (IMN 27/05/02). In that article, Dr Rynne refers to the award of a research grant by the Health Research Board (HRB) to Prof Denis O’Mullane of University College Cork as a “handout”.

I am sure that Dr Rynne is aware that no award by the HRB can be described as a “handout”. Prof O’Mullane and colleagues competed last year, with 103 other applicants, for a prestigious research programme award from the HRB. Each application was subjected to rigorous, international peer review and a panel of international experts recommended the best 12 proposals for funding. Prof O’Mullane’s application was one of these. The awards were announced in February this year. For the record, the value of the award to Prof OâMullane and colleagues is E500,000 over the five-year period from 2002 to 2007.

Comment on Dr Barrington’s letter.

The point that Dr Rynne made in his article was that the Health Research Board was simply giving more (taxpayer) money to the same people (Prof O’Mullane included) who while acting as experts on the Fluoridation Forum, have been unable to answer a single one of the 50 questions about fluoridation put to them by Dr Paul Connett in October 2000.

One must ask what is the purpose of such prestigious research when the people to whom it is entrusted can not justify fluoridation in the first place. The answer is of course that it has more to do with political cover-up than with science — as the UK York Review inferred only a year ago.

It is also disturbing to learn that 103 other researchers applied for this prestigious grant. And what taxpayer resources were  given to evaluating these applications by the Health Research Board itself ?

Dr. Rhynne’s original article.

Irish Medical News

May 27 2002

Yet more research on water fluoridation

by Dr Andrew Rynne


I have written before about the failure of the Forum on Water Fluoridation in Ireland to address key questions on the risks of fluoridation.

Prof Denis O’Mullane of the Oral Health Services Research Centre in UCC is a member of the Forum. This Forum has been a spectacular failure. For example it had around 50 questions put to it by chemistry professor Dr Paul Connett. These were in the main simple enough kind of queries and should have been a breeze to the various academics on the Forum.

But in order to address Dr Connett’s concerns about water fluoridation, a special Sub-group was set up under the chairmanship of Prof O’Mullane. They laboured hard and long trying to address each of Dr Connett’s questions and promised to produce a report which never actually saw the light of day. At the end of the day how many of the answers to the initial 50 questions do you think they managed to get published? Go on, have a guess at it. About half of them would you say?

No? Well surely they got the right answer to a quarter of them, or even say to 10 out of 50?

No, sorry, wrong again. The special committee to address the 50 questions managed to publicly answer not one single solitary one of them and of course no report was produced.

Prof O’Mullane has now been awarded a grant by the Health Research Board to study Water Fluoridation and Health: The Benefits and Risks of Fluoride on the Island of Ireland, to quote the HRBâs own web-site. How much of a grant we are not told. But the actual size of this hand-out is not the point.

Irish taxpayers have already had to fork out over 253,000 Irish pounds, spent so far by the Forum on Fluoridation, that talking-shop that has been going on now mostly in the new Dental Hospital since September 2000. An interim report was issued in December 2000.

Due to be published last October, its final report has still not seen the light of day despite repeated promises that it would do so. Leaked versions of it suggest that it is a real middle-of the-road, kick-for-touch job and that when it eventually comes out it will be recommending the continuation of this forced medication on the Irish population. I do not believe that Irish taxpayers have got value for their money from this Forum, given that it could not publicly answer even one out of 50 or so questions put to it.

Once again it is we the people of this country, who must endure a daily dose of an unknown amount of toxic waste material being put into our drinking water and then when we have got that into ourselves we must then turn around and start paying again for research into whether this stuff is doing us more harm that good.

But it seems many of the people we are being asked to pay for this kind of research have formally expressed themselves as being in favour of the practice of fluoridation. This declared bias shall surely prejudice the  perception in the public mind of the results of their research.

Others have already been found wanting when it comes to publicly answering  specific questions and concerns about fluoridation. And yet it seems that these very people are being awarded the grant money for further research into the very same issues that the Forum has so far failed to provide adequate and timely answers to.


Letter from Jane Jones, also published in today’s issue of the Irish Medical News.

Irish Medical News

July 8, 2002.

Dear Editor,

Milking the grant system.

How can Dr Ruth Barrington, Chief Executive, Health Research Board, possibly justify Professor O’Mullane’s ‘success’ in snatching E500,000 for a five year period of research into water fluoridation, when a body of more than 40,000 published papers on the effects of fluorides on health and the environment already exists?

As a good example of what she (and we) can expect, consider the absurd conclusion of his work with Ketley, Cochran, Lennon and Worthington (Urinary fluoride excretion of young children exposed to different fluoride regimes, Community Dent Health 2002 Mar;19(1):12-7) on the subject of fluoridated school milk, which reads “The daily fluoride excretion in these children, corrected for age and fluoride ingested from toothpaste, appeared to indicate that the fluoride intake in the children drinking fluoridated school milk was SOMEWHERE BETWEEN those living in an optimally fluoridated area and those in a low fluoride area.” Hardly a scientific conclusion!

But wait – compare it with the earlier, but equally nebulous conclusion, by two of his co-authors, Lennon and Ketley, published in a different publication, (Urinary fluoride excretion in children drinking fluoridated school milk,Int J Paediatr Dent 2000 Dec;10(4):260-70), “the children’s mean 24 h fluoride excretion was SOMEWHERE BETWEEN that reported in low fluoride conditions and that reported in optimally fluoridated areas. The fractional urinary fluoride excretion was found to be in agreement with the findings of other workers.”

Is this the calibre of work the taxpayers are expected to swallow for their money?

Has Dr Barrington actually read any of these ‘studies’ or is she simply content to support the distribution of largesse to amass more dubious ‘research’ in an effort to shore up the sacred cow of fluoridation?

Think on this: How can the Irish (or any) Government possibly admit that fluoridation is harmful when, to do so, would drown them in lawsuits costing untold millions of Euros, Pounds, Dollars and Piastres after fifty-odd years of balderdash about tooth decay?  Maybe they believe that doling out ‘research grants’ to build a ‘weight of evidence’ (in tonnes of paper), will see off the enemy!

Governments should recognise – and respect – the rights of people and stop the practice now, before someone opens the floodgates. And the fluoride promoters should recognise – and respect – the rights of individuals to refuse their self-serving quackery.

Yours faithfully,

Jane Jones,
Campaign Director,
National Pure Water Association,
12 Dennington Lane,
Wakefield WF4 3ET, UK.