A leading US scientist has written to the Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Health expressing his frustration at what he sees as a failure to take action on water fluoridation.
Dr Paul Connett previously travelled to Ireland on two occasions to testify against the practice and appeared before the Oireachtas Committee in 2004. Since then, he claims, nothing has been done, and he feels he has been abused by those charged with assessing the merits of water fluoridation in Ireland.
In a letter to Deputy John Moloney, Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Health, Dr Paul Connett, Professor of Chemistry, St Lawrence University, Canton, New York, writes: “I have been both used and abused by the bureaucrats and dental policy advisors who spearhead the practice of mandatory water fluoridation in your country.”
He says he was first contacted by the Department of Health “out of the blue” over five years ago and asked if he would fly to Ireland to give evidence to the Fluoridation Forum. The Department paid Dr Connett’s expenses.
He said he drew the ire of lobby groups opposed to fluoridation who claimed that the Forum included a majority of pro-fluoride experts.
Dr Connett gave evidence in October, 2000, urging them to consider his document entitled 50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation. He said the panel and the then Health Minister Micheál Martin assured him that Ireland had an open mind on the issue.
According to Dr Connett, the Forum promised to respond to his document but ultimately stated that it did not have time to do so.
In May, 2004, the Green Party paid for Dr Connett to return to Ireland to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health. In his letter, he says he was initially encouraged by his appearance as he felt the Committee was sympathetic to his case. “If there was anyone on the panel in favour of fluoridation they certainly didn’t make their presence known. I received no hostile questions. Far from it, at least two committee members present made it clear that they were strongly opposed to fluoridation,” he writes.
Dr Connett told the Committee in May, 2004, he would be happy to return to debate the issue in public, if this was required.
He now says that no reply was received to his 50 Reasons thesis until an anonymous posting on the Department of Health website last year. The unsigned document did not take Dr Connett’s specific arguments to task – leading him to claim that the Department was deliberately attempting to cloud the issue.
“I am most disappointed that they didn’t have the courtesy to send their response to me in person, although I could understand the intense embarrassment that such a long-delayed and pathetic response must have caused them,” he states in his letter to Mr Moloney.
Dr Connett accused the Irish Government of failing to conduct any original research on the impact of fluoridation and of relying on secondary analysis from other countries where a similar policy is in place. “It is amazing that they cannot keep track of the primary literature themselves,” he says.
Finally, Dr Connett says that if Ireland believes it has satisfactorily addressed the issues he raised, “I will wash my hands of the matter as far as your country is concerned.”