UCD Professor Dolores Cahill has resigned as the chairperson of the Irish Freedom Party, citing long-standing “differences of opinion” as the reason for the split.
In a statement live-streamed on her Facebook page, Cahill said that she parted ways from the party on good terms. She invited her followers to join her on “a new path, that is more inclusive of all of the peoples of this great island.” Cahill emphasised that this “new path” would be both “peaceful and lawful” in its goal to deliver “positive change for Ireland”.
Cahill penned her resignation on Friday the 19th of March, just two days after she spoke at an anti-lockdown mass gathering in Herbert Park. Cahill was listed as the main organiser of the event on her social media platforms. The UCD lecturer made a number of scientifically disputed claims including saying that; children who wear masks “will not reach their IQ potential, because they are not getting the oxygen [that their brains need]’. The reason they tell us to wear masks is that oxygen-deprived people are easy to control.”
The College Tribune previously reported that “Cahill claimed, without citing any evidence, that asymptomatic people did not exist. “There is no such thing as asymptomatic carriers,” she said. She added that the Gardai who are enforcing the restrictions put in place by the government are implicit in ‘unlawful and criminal behaviour’.”
Her resignation was accepted by the ‘Ard Chomhairle’ of the party Sunday morning. The party announcement labelled Cahill as “one of Ireland’s top academics” and thanked the UCD Medicine lecturer for her “contribution to the party”.
“Prof. Cahill has no expertise in the area of public health or virology”. – Conor Anderson, UCDSU President.
University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) condemned the comment made by Cahill and have called on UCD to open an investigation into Professor Dolores Cahill for perceived “deliberate disregard for health and safety precautions likely to endanger another person”, under statute 28 of The Universities Act 1997.
UCDSU President Conor Anderson said: “Dolores Cahill has been propagating medically-inaccurate conspiracy theories in service of a far-right political agenda throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, her words are far-reaching. Professor Cahill has amassed a huge following and exerts considerable influence over the general public who do not realise she is not an expert in virology, epidemiology, or public health.”
The SU president also stated that “Cahill is using her role in UCD to position herself as an expert voice to the anti-mask, anti-lockdown far right.” and that the university needs to let the public know “that Prof. Cahill has no expertise in the area of public health or virology”.
University College Dublin has not condemned the statements of Dolores Cahill, maintaining that Cahill is protected under the principle of Academic Freedom: @UCDResearch on Twitter “this is Academic Freedom in action- the academic community must publicly question & interrogate this issue and seek to uphold high standards of scientific research and communication. It’s the obligation of members of this community to do so and of the HEIs to allow them.”
UCD academics are afforded academic freedom as detailed in the Statement on Academic Freedom which was written upon the request of former UCD President Hugh Brady as an addition to section 14 (1) of the Universities Act of 1997.
The Irish Universities Act states that “A member of the academic staff of a university shall have the freedom, within the law, in his or her teaching, research and any other activities either in or outside the university, to question and test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state controversial or unpopular opinions and shall not be disadvantaged, or subject to less favourable treatment by the university, for the exercise of that freedom.”
Hugh Dooley – News Editor
Additional reporting from:
Stephen Kisbey-Green – Co Editor