Renewed Irish water fluoridation review call

THERE were renewed calls last night for a review of Ireland’s mandatory fluoridation of Irish water.

This followed a study found weight gain and depression caused by an under-active thyroid is linked to high levels of fluoride in water.

Scientists say water fluoridation above a certain level is linked to 30 percent higher than expected rates of hypothyroidism in England. Worryingly, the fluoride levels of concern are considerably LESS than the maximum levels of fluoride the HSE puts into our water supply here.

imgresLast night Fianna Fail Cork County councillor Christopher O’Sullivan said: ‘I wouldn’t be in a position to debate the pros and cons of the science behind fluoridation. But this study reiterates the need for a wider debate and a review of this country’s mandatory fluoridation of water supplies.’

He was behind a motion passed last March in which Cork County Council became the first council to call on the government to stop putting fluoride into water supplies. The call was followed by similar ones from councils in Kerry, Dublin, Cavan and Wexford.

He added: ‘I only put forward the motion on an issue of freedom of choice. Fluoride hasn’t been removed from our supply in Cork despite the successful vote, which has cross-party support.

‘There is enough evidence to create doubt about the use of it in our country’s water supply. I would hope this study encourages the government to review the issue. There needs to be an independent study into its use, especially as the last big one was back in 2000.’

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water and certain foods including tea and fish. Its main benefit is in helping reduce the risk of tooth decay. As a result the mineral is added to many brands of toothpaste, and in some areas, to the water supply.

But researchers at the University of Kent have warned the mineral may be responsible for triggering underactive thyroids. Also known as hypothyroidism, the condition prevents the thyroid – a gland in the neck – producing vital hormones.

That in turn, promotes weight gain, causes depression and tiredness in sufferers. The authors, led by Professor Stephen Peckham, conclude: ‘Consideration needs to be given to reducing fluoride exposure.’ The scientists examined 2012 levels of fluoride in drinking water supply.

Professor Stephen Peckham
Professor Stephen Peckham

They looked at these fluoride levels in conjunction with the national prevalence of underactive thyroid. The researchers also carried out a secondary analysis, comparing two built-up areas. The West Midlands, which is supplied with fluoridated drinking water, was pitched against Greater Manchester, which isn’t.

Where fluoride levels were above 0.7mg per litre – which is 0.1mg less than the maximum limit put into Irish water – they found higher than expected rates of hypothyroidism than in areas with levels below this dilution. High rates of hypothyroidism were at least 30 per cent more likely in GP practices located in areas with fluoride levels in excess of 0.3mg per litre, which is .3mg less than the bottom limit put into Irish water supplies.

Fluoridation of drinking water supplies, which has been going on since 1964, is governed by Fluoridation of Water Supplies Regulations 2007. The Health Service Executive has responsibility for fluoridation policy and for coordinating all matters relating to the implementation of the fluoridation of water supplies in Ireland.

The Regulations require the amount of fluoride which may be added to public water supplies shall be such that the water, after the addition of the fluoride, shall contain not more than 0.8 milligrams of fluoride per litre (mg/l) of water, and not less than 0.6 milligrams of fluoride per litre (mg/l) of water.

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A spokesperson for Irish Water said last night: ‘Irish Water act as agents of HSE in fluoridating water supplies in succession to the local authorities who were agents of the Department of Health/HSE since 1964 following the introduction of fluoridation in Ireland by way of the Health (Fluoridation of Water Supplies) Act 1960.

‘Irish Water complies with the above Regulations in fluoridating water supplies.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘Water fluoridation is the adjustment of the natural concentration of fluoride in drinking water to the optimal recommended level for the prevention of dental decay.

‘Fluoride strengthens the teeth, strong teeth result in fewer fillings, fewer extractions and fewer visits to the dentist. In Ireland, the Forum on Fluoridation reviewed fluoridation policy in 2000 and concluded the fluoridation of public piped water supplies should continue as a public health measure.

‘The Department of Health keeps the policy of water fluoridation under constant review.

‘As part of this ongoing work, a review of evidence on the impact of water fluoridation at its current level on the health of the population has been conducted by the Health Research Board on behalf of the Department. This is currently being finalised.’

Parishioners should be ‘cautious’ about beggars

A PRIEST has called on parishioners to be ‘cautious’ when giving money to beggars. Fr Michael Cusack thinks they should instead consider giving money to charities.

His comments have been sparked by complaints by elderly parishioners who say they feel ‘half threatened’ by beggars on their way into church.

Photograph of Fr Michael Cusack Fr Cusack said that around six people have started begging outside St Joseph’s Redemptorist’s Church in Dundalk in recent months.

The priest also said the church also has a problem with the toilet in the church being used by some of the beggars who dump their drink cans and needles there.

He said the toilet has been left “in a horrendous state,” and “needles, cans and bottles,” have been left behind.

Homeless campaigners like Fr Peter McVerry agree that people should be cautious about giving money to beggars.

He said: ‘Fr Cusack is right to urge people to be cautious.

‘Some people earn their living by beginning, others beg to feed their addiction.

Redemptorists-Dundalk-300x200‘And it is very difficult to know who is a genuine case. I am not against begging and I don’t think Fr Cusack is.

‘Some people have to beg because they have no other form of income and I’m not against addicts begging.

‘It’s better they beg for it than go out and rob somebody’s house for the money to feed their addiction. So yes, people should be cautious.’

But last night, Dublin City councillor Mannix Flynn urged people instead to question why they want to give money to charity in the first place and he also said begging should be outlawed ‘full stop’.

Commenting on Fr Cusack call for caution, he said: ‘The issue of addicts coming into churches has been one in Dublin city centre for a while.

‘You even have a situation where some churches have had to empty their Holy Water fonts because addicts were cleaning their needles in them.

‘Yes, these addicts can be very intimidating to elderly people, but people of all ages are intimidated by them.

‘And it’s time we called a spade a spade and simply outlawed begging.

‘Very few so-called beggars are poor.

mannix_flynn

‘Many of them are addicts of one form or another or they are people who beg for a living and prey off people’s kinder natures. I’ve heard of beggars going from one church to another as each mass starts and finishes.’

He added: ‘As far as giving to charity is concerned, you have to ask yourself why you think that would solve them problem. You also have to ask yourself, if these charities are set up to sort out the issue like drugs addiction and homelessness, why do we not only have a national begging problem, but one that is getting worse.

‘Begging has become an epidemic in this country and the new begging culture that exists has just become unacceptable.

‘And I really don’t think just giving money to charity is the solution to begging.

‘It won’t remove the problem, prohibiting begging by legislating against it will.’

Fr Cusack said there is the giving of time to voluntary and community groups and there is also ‘how we give our money and sometimes our giving is misguided’.

He said a person’s conscience may say to them that a man begging ‘is some mother’s son’ but by giving money to that person people may ‘be giving the message that this is the place to come for money needed to feed a drug or drink addiction. Sometimes people don’t see the danger in that’.

The cleric, who delivered the powerful sermon at the 2013 funeral of slain Det. Garda Adrian Donohoe, said giving in that situation can enable them to get further into their addiction.

Fr Cusack, who organises the annual St Gerard’s Novena that attracts tens of thousands of people to the church every October, also said he is concerned about the older parishioners, ‘they feel half-threatened’ by those begging.

He said: ‘Older people find church a place of solace.

‘They can feel uncomfortable and get verbally abused and can feel physically encroached upon.

Fr Cusack said he too has got ‘a barrage of abuse’ from some of those begging.

‘I can take it, I’m thick skinned but older people are not prepared for it.’ he added.

He said that while the homeless are a vulnerable group in society, that the elderly are also one.

He raised the issue at mass on Sunday because he said he wants people to talk and reflect on how they ‘give’.

He added: ‘While I believe we are a generous people, a generous church and a generous nation, we need to provide the best care and the proper care.

‘A better way to give is to give to agencies like the Simon Community who really care for the well-being of people.’

He also pointed out, for example, that between October and December last year, St Joseph’s raised over €20,000 for the Simon Community.

‘That is the good type of giving,’ he said.

Homeless campaigner Sister Stan said last night: ‘People need to look at the reasons why someone is begging and ask themselves if there is an issue with that person being able to access the services they need.

‘The issue of whether or not to give money to a beggar is one that confronts us all.

‘I think the only way anyone is able to make the right choice is if they are fully informed.

‘I don’t have the answer about whether or not you should or shouldn’t give to beggars.

‘In principle, I would agree with Fr Cusack but this is not some blanket denial of someone’s right to beg.

‘That said, if someone is clearly not in the a right state of mind, you do have to consider that.’

She added: ‘I can see where there appears to be an issue at Fr Cusack’s church and someone needs to do something about that.’

The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill 2010 criminalises people who beg within 10 metres of the entrance of a business premises. However, it does not apply to places of religious worship.

 

Red Bull Crashed Ice Belfast

Yesterday saw the start of the Red Bull Crashed Ice event in Belfast, which goes up a gear tonight ahead of tomorrow night’s final.

What’s it all about? Try this . . .

Jake’s Law vigil mother meets minister

Photograph of transport minister with  Jake's Law campaigner Roseann Brennan and husband Christian.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe with the Brennans

ROSEANN Brennan with Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe on the day before TDs are due to vote on Road Traffic Amendment Bill 2015.

The 30-year-old and husband Christopher want the law changed to reduce speed limits in public and private housing estates to 20kph.

The legal speed limit is currently 50kph but local authorities have the option of imposing limits of 30kph in residential areas.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe in a photograph outside Dail talking to campaigners on Jake's Law
Jake’s father Christopher listens to Minister Donohoe outside the Dail.

The Brennans launched the campaign after their six-year-old Jake was knocked down and killed was playing outside their Lintown Grove home in Co Kilkenny last June 12 at 6.25pm – the time tomorrow the couple and their friends will end their three-day vigil outside the gates of the Dail.

pix-jakeslawRINAP2-1Earlier this week, she told the Irish Times: ’I heard a loud bang and I saw him being flung-up in the air.

‘I ran over and he collapsed in my arms.

‘He was telling me, “mammy, I don’t want to die”.’

Although she has met Minister Donohue five times during her campaign, she decided to take the campaign to the gates of the Dail because she felt she was getting fobbed off.

She says she has previously been told it would ‘take many years’ for the speed limits on residential estates to be reduced to a mandatory 20kph.

pix-jakeslawRINAP1-1Their campaign is backed by Sinn Fein’s Dessie Ellis and Mary Lou McDonald, who – along with other TDs – will debate the issue again tomorrow before the vote Wednesday night.

Photograph of Roseann saying goodbye to Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe at the gates of the Dail

The petition is on Change.org.

Seisiún, Brogan’s Bar.

Gardai issue Invoice Redirection Fraud Alert

THIEVES HAVE conned businesses out of €100,000 in a new invoices scam.

The scam has been reported to Gardai, who have just announced they recently detected a ‘pattern of criminal activity’ that has the potential to cause serious financial losses to businesses.

So far, up to 14 cases have been reported, with potential losses of over €5m, however €100k has been stolen.

A number of firms based around the country have received fraudulent instructions in the recent weeks via email or letter which instructed them to record new account details for their various clients.

A Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation spokesperson said: ‘There is no pattern in the fraudulent account details as they involve different financial institutions in both Ireland and the UK.

‘As a result of the various businesses having received these fraudulent instructions, these businesses transferred money to the various bank accounts in payment of due debts.

‘However due to the vigilance of the various financial institutions, most of the money was either prevented from having been sent in the first instance or recovered.’

Detectives are calling on all businesses to conduct an immediate review of any instructions that they have received from customers involving a request for a change of account details.

The spokesperson added: ‘As a security precaution it should be confirmed by verbal contact with the relevant financial control person in each business that purportedly sent change of account instructions as to whether they were genuine instructions or not.

‘Where any business suspects that such an attempt was made or indeed where they have received such a request they should immediately contact their local Garda station and their bank.

‘The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation are liaising closely with the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland.’

They recommend people study their Invoice Redirection Fraud Alert Advice Sheet.

U2’s Every Breaking Wave by Aoife McArdle.

This out from U2 – a short film by Aoife McArdle.

Belfast-based film maker Aoife made the 13-minute film love story between a young couple from either side of the sectarian divide.

It’s set in the early 1980s with tracks from U2’s latest album Songs of Innocence used as the soundtrack – the main one of which being Every Breaking Wave, and ending with The Troubles.

Stiff Little Fingers’ iconic Alternative Ulster also appears on the soundtrack.

The Edge says of the project: ‘The Aoife McArdle short film expands on the theme of Songs of Innocence which was largely rooted in our experience growing up in the early eighties in Dublin.

‘Aoife chose west Belfast in the same period, as it was the neighborhood that was so formative to her.’