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Regressive council criticised for passing anti fluoride motion

Thursday, 1st May, 2014 1:00am

A Cork group promoting science, reason and critical thinking has criticised Cork City Council's recent decision to call on the Government to end the practice of fluoridating drinking water.

The motion claims that there is scientific evidence of the dangers of fluoridation but Colm Ryan from Cork Skeptics disagrees, calling the motion “very regressive” and is disappointed that “so many councillors have decided to take the word of a pressure group".

The motion, proposed by Sinn Féin's Chris O'Leary comes a month and a half after Cork County Council unanimously passed a similar motion.

The City Council's debate was much closer with the motion passed eight to seven with two abstentions.

Cllr O'Leary explained that this was his fifth time bringing the motion before Council since 2002. As Ireland is the last EU member to fluoridate water, he asserted Cork city should follow the lead of Cork County Council who recently passed a similar motion.

Fianna Fáil's Terry Shannon urged caution on the matter. “Many experts disagree on this. It's like a fad diet. In today out tomorrow. I would like an educated team to look at it. We need greater information.”

Meanwhile Independent Councillor Kieran McCarthy cautioned that passing the motion could open up a “can of worms” and suggested it be left as a national issue.

Sinn Féin Councillor Thomas Gould claimed to be “surprised we haven't been sued because it's in the water".

He argues that citizens should have a right to make a decision on whether or not an unnatural substance is added to water.

“This is an issue for me as a parent. As adults we have the choice not to drink public water but children have no choice.”

“I don't believe it is the right practice.”

Cllr Des Cahill of Fine Gael stated: “We have always had a very good standard of water in Cork city. If it's not broken, why fix it? I'd be hesitant to change it.”

Mr Ryan says that the claims being made by the anti-fluoride campaign, such as connections to Down Syndrome and cancers, are “absolutely outrageous”. He alleges that the campaign have failed to prove that the dosage in our public water is a problem, claiming that the levels found in Irish public water are conservative.

“The pressure group are citing studies but not telling the full story which usually comes down to dosage.” He accuses the campaign of cherry picking facts, particularly around dosage levels.

“Ultimately Government and policy makers need to make decisions made upon evidence."

His real worry is that if fluoride is taken out of the water supply, like has been done in Australia, then we will see increases of dental decay in children, such as has been seen there.

Mr Ryan accused councillors of not doing their homework, rebutting the argument that Ireland is the last country in Europe to fluoridate water saying that other countries simply employ other methods such as fluoridating salt.

“When it comes to public health you can't be ruled by opinion, you must look at international scientific consensus and peer reviewed data.”

Given that control of public water has recently been transferred from local authorities to Irish Water, it is unclear what the impact of this motion will be.

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