UCD students call for investigation of Professor Dolores Cahill saying she ‘endangers public health’

A photo of UCD Professor Dolores Cahill speaking at an anti-mask rally in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day.

The president of the Students’ Union (SU) of University College Dublin (UCD), Conor Anderson, has called for an investigation of Professor Dolores Cahill for gross misconduct. Cahill, who is the chair of the far-right Irish Freedom Party (IFP), has become the face of COVID denialism and the wider anti-mask movement in recent months. Anderson has said her comments “endangers public health”.

During a rally in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day, Cahill told a crowd of hundreds of people that wearing masks lowers the amount of oxygen a person can breathe in. And as a result it can lower the IQ of children. Last year she made similarly unsubstantiated claims during an anti-mask rally.

“Conspiracy theories”

In a press release Anderson argued that Cahill is promoting “medically inaccurate conspiracy theories in service of a far-right political agenda”. Pointing to her large public following, Anderson also noted that Cahill “exerts considerable influence” over this following. And that they “do not realise she is not an expert in virology, epidemiology, or public health”.

Anderson also wrote that Cahill’s role as a professor in the UCD School of Medicine gives her credibility that she mightn’t otherwise have. With this in mind, he declared that:

It is of the upmost importance that we as a University explain to the public that Prof. Cahill has no expertise in the area of public health or virology, and we do have qualified experts in this area in UCD.

As part of this process, the SU president has said he’s written to the authorities of the UCD School of Medicine and UCD Human Resources. He’s requested that they investigate Cahill under Statute 28 of the Universities Act 1997. Under this act gross misconduct is defined as “deliberate disregard for health and safety precautions likely to endanger another person”.

Andrew Meehan, a second-year medical student in UCD, stated that Cahill “continues to spread misinformation and unfounded claims about the Covid-19 pandemic”. These claims, he said, are “damaging the integrity of our school’s name and reputation, both within Ireland and abroad”.

In recent days UCD students have also started a petition calling for Cahill’s resignation. At the time of writing nearly 700 people have signed it.

A spokesperson for UCD told the Irish Times yesterday that Cahill has no teaching responsibilities this trimester.

A history of unfounded claims

During an anti-lockdown rally in Dublin’s Herbert Park on St. Patrick’s Day, Cahill addressed a crowd of a few hundred people. She told them that masks deprive people of oxygen, especially children. And in the case of the latter, she insisted it will reduce their IQ. Cahill also argued that masks are part of an agenda on the part of “globalists” to control people. 

The UCD professor made similar claims during another anti-mask rally last year. Speaking at the Custom House in Dublin in November, she insisted that wearing masks can “cause permanent brain damage”. She also opined that COVID-19 is “seasonal” and “only cause[s] illness and symptoms between December and April”.

During the same rally she said world leaders were planning to unleash further pandemics on the world. And that there was a plot to bomb Rotterdam in order to disrupt the food supply.

No evidence for any of this was forthcoming. 

Featured image via Twitter – Ronan McGreevy

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