Fluoride Action Network

Fluoridation in Ireland: Some Background

Source: International Fluoride Information Network | March 25th, 2000
Location: Ireland

Some news here from Ireland.

I visited Ireland March 10-15 (2000) and had a chance to talk about fluoride and meet up with the activists fighting fluoridation.

Here’s some background.

1) In 1960, the Irish Parliament (the Dail) passed the Health (Fluoridation of Water Supplies) Act. This mandated that fluoride be added to the public water supplies.

2) In 1963, this act was challenged in the supreme court by Dubliner Gladys Ryan ( Gladys Ryan versus the Attorney General) on the basis that fluoridation was mass medication and that it infringed her personal rights. She lost.

3) Section 6.1 of the 1960 Health (Fluoridation of Water Supplies) Act, required that ” It shall be the duty of the Minister to arrange from time to time to do such surveys as appear to him to be desirable to be made as respect the health, or any particular aspects of health, of persons, or of particular classes of persons, in the functional areaa of a health authority in relation to whom regulations under section 2 of this Act are in force”. Since fluoridation began, no Minister of Health in Ireland has followed through on this duty.

4) Currently, 73% of the population of Ireland drink fluoridated water. However, the water in Northern Ireland, despite atempts of the UK government, has not been fluoridated.

5) The fluoride added to the water in Ireland is Hydrofluosilicic acid (hexa fluorosilicic acid), imported from the phosphate fertilizer industry in the Netherlands (which has banned fluoridation!) and it is distributed by Albatross Chemicals, New Ross, County Wexford.

6) In 1999, the Irish government attempted to expand its fluoridation program to areas still unfluoridated, these included Donegal County and parts of Sligo County, both in the northwest of Ireland. These plans have been met with fierce opposition from the public and local officials. Donnegal County council voted for a halt to the plan until the Ministry for Health has conducted health surveys. Sligo County Council has voted 22-0 to call upon the central government to allow them not to fluoridate their water. This vote came after a presentation by Walter Graham from Northern Ireland. He pointed out that 24 regional councils there have voted against attempts by the UK government to impose fluoridation. Walter has been instrumental in forming these 24 councils into a unified body on this issue.

7) Two major TV programs have covered the issue in recent months, including Prime Time. In the latter, Iva Pocock of the environmental group VOICE gave a spirited and articulate defence of their campaign against fluoridation. On the other hand, a spokesperson for the Ministry for Health had to admit under repeated questioning that they had not conducted the health survey mandated in the 1960 Act.

8) Recently, the former Minister for Health has been bumped up to Foreign Minister, and the new Minister for Health is Michael Martin. Some activists are hopeful that Mr. Martin will take a more open minded view of this issue. Meanwhile, questions are being raised in the Dail and the campaign is really heating up.

9) There are four groups fighting fluoridation in Ireland. a) The national environmental organization VOICE. This group, based in Dublin, was formed in the wake of the demise of Greenpeace-Ireland. They have been organizing against fluoridation as well as incineration ( avoice@iol.ie). b) A national group set up specifically to fight fluoridation called “Fluoride Free Ireland” (fluoridefree@eircom.net). c) A local group in Sligo County called Sligo Action Against Fluoride (Ireland 071 68699) and d) A group of doctors who have formed a group for environmental awareness.

Paul Connett.