- 20 Feb 14
Clonakilty is aiming to become Ireland’s first fluoride-free town.
Amongst the issues raised by the Girl Against Fluoride’s open letter to the Irish government and Irish Water (click here) is the possibility of a mass refusal by the Irish public to pay for the privilege of being poisoned.
In West Cork, home-turf of internationally renowned fluoride whistleblower, the scientist Declan Waugh, a strong ‘don’t pay for poison’ campaign has been mounted. Driven by influential members of the political and business community, and with cooperation across all the major towns of the region, the West Cork Fluoride Free campaign has a high-level of organization, expertise and public relations clout.
“The fact that there’s been no tests done on the safety of water fluoridation over the last 50 years – I don’t know how the government has got away with it,” exclaims Clonakilty town councillor, Ann Cullinane, who spoke last week during a high-powered public meeting convened to set up an action group to push for Clonakilty to become Ireland’s first fluoride-free town.
All nine Clonakilty town councillors support the move, as well as key figures from the business community – including Michael O’Neill, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, whose Fernhill House Hotel dug its own well last year in order to offer customers fluoride-free water and food.
A month-long petition campaign has been launched on the streets of Clonakilty, with members of the public being asked to sign a letter to Cork County Council and Irish Water requesting that the fluoridation policy be brought to an end.
Another public meeting will be held on February 11, with speakers including scientist Declan Waugh and the Girl Against Fluoride, Aisling FitzGibbon.
“We have lots of ideas for creating awareness,” Cullinane adds. “We’ve a group here called the West Cork Sand Circles who do massive sand circle designs on Inchydoney Strand, and they’re going to do a fluoride one. And we’re testing the water from the town pump – which still works – and if it’s OK to drink, that’s where I’ll be getting my water from now on.”
A growing number of businesses in Clonakilty want to offer safe, fluoride-free water to their customers, provoking a public discussion on how best to facilitate the affordable installation of reverse osmosis (RO) filters in businesses in the town.
“We’re discussing whether the Clonakilty Chamber of Commerce could provide a grant, or a loan of 50 per cent of the costs, or whether businesses could buy RO filters as a group and so get discounts, or indeed whether we can do local fundraising for the businesses that want to go fluoride-free. The desire and the will is there, so I think we can make it happen. The fact that everybody in the community seems to want the same thing is a massive plus for us.”
Similar stop-fluoridation campaigns are unfolding in the West Cork towns of Skibbereen, Bantry, Macroom and Bandon.
“What Declan Waugh is successfully highlighting here are the rates of illness in this country compared to non-fluoridated countries. In Clonakilty, we all know people and have relatives who are sick or who’ve died. I lost my sister three years ago to leukaemia. She was only 43, and she left three small kids behind. It just makes me so angry to think that her death may have been preventable.
“Maybe she’d have been stronger, maybe she’d have been able to fight it, if there wasn’t fluoride. Everybody is thinking like that now. After Declan Waugh spoke at our last meeting,” Cullinane recalls, “I asked were people going to pay their water charges, and hundreds of people gave a resounding ‘no’. I asked it again, and the second time the ‘no’ was even louder. After all the negative stuff that’s come out about Irish Water, are we seriously going to pay a company to continue poisoning us?
“I wouldn’t have a problem paying for water if I believed they were going to clean it up. But as long as there’s fluoride in it, there’s a toxic substance in it, and there’s no way I can pay for it, knowing my children will be drinking it.”
Karen Cokely, town councillor and former mayor of Skibbereen, is another key player in the West Cork stop-fluoridation campaign.
“We’re only ordinary Joe Soaps and we can see the damage,” she says. “So why are these highly intelligent people in government not reading the facts? What are they afraid of? Every day people are saying, this person has cancer – they don’t drink, they don’t smoke, it must be in the air. What else is there? The water.
“We’re in the middle of a recession – why should we have to pay for something that is damaging, and more? It’s linked to so many problems, including depression. Life is hard enough for people without poisoning them every day. Apart from the tragic personal costs, there’s all the financial cost to the state...
“It makes me so cross, because it seems so simple to just stop it,” asserts Cokely. “I don’t mind paying for anything, but to have to pay for poisoned water is against my principles. I’m already having to pay for mineral water because I don’t want to drink fluoride.”