Forum Minutes of Meetings - 11 January 2001

Minutes of meeting of the Forum on Fluoridation on 11 January 2001
The Boardroom, Dublin Dental Hospital


  • Professor Pat Fottrell (Chairman)

  • Dr Wayne Anderson

  • Professor William Binchy

  • Dr Elizabeth Cullen

  • Dr Paddy Flanagan

  • Mr Oliver Fogarty

  • Ms Dorothy Gallagher

  • Dr Gerard Gavin

  • Dr Howard Johnson

  • Professor Cecily Kelleher

  • Mr Kevin Moyles

  • Dr Joe Mullen

  • Dr Máire O’Connor

  • Dr Carmel Parnell

  • Ms Nessa O’Doherty (Forum Secretariat)

  • Dr Miriam Owens (Rapporteur)

  • Dr Margaret Shannon


  • Professor John Clarkson

  • Dr Dominique Crowley

  • Ms Dora Hennessy

  • Professor Moira O’Brien

  • Professor Denis O’Mullane

  • Professor Miriam Wiley


Presentation by Dr Paul Beirne, Research Fellow, UCC

Q&A followed. Copy of text of presentation given to members. Dr Beirne then left.

Minutes of Meeting of 14 December 2000

While noting that the need for the advice of a toxicologist was mentioned in the minutes (i.e. (d), page 4), Dr Cullen asked that a toxicologist also be requested to advise on the issues of concern to the IDEA (i.e. (ix), page 8) - this was agreed.

Matters arising

(a) A bio-statistician is required to advise the Forum on specific issues - Professor O'Mullane, Dr Gavin and Dr Johnson to discuss their respective nominees and to submit one name to Secretariat as soon as possible - Secretariat will then contact the nominee and invite him/her to give comments on the York Review

(b) The Chairman briefly discussed the presenters who are scheduled or suggested for future meetings. Dr Don MacAuley, Navan, has been invited to give a presentation at the meeting on 8 February 2001 - if this is not convenient, he will be invited to forward a paper on his views, focusing on the arguments which he put forward in his recent article in the Irish Medical Journal (i.e., "Water Fluoridation: Pollutant or Panacea" by Dr Don MacAuley, Irish Medical Journal, vol 93, pages 163-165, September 2000)

(c) The Chairman presented the Forum's Interim Report to Mr Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Health and Children, on 20 December 2000. In response to a press query from the Irish Medical News, the Report was released to a journalist on 10 January 2001, on the advice of the Minister's Special Advisor

(d) The Secretariat contacted the General Council of County Councils in order to establish if a meeting of several representatives of their Executive Council would be willing to meet with several members of the Forum to discuss the concerns raised by several County Councils recently (i.e., Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Dublin, Kildare); the Secretariat was advised that while members of the Executive Council would be willing to do so it would be more appropriate to contact the relevant County Councils separately. Dr Gavin told the Forum that he has recently been invited by Kildare County Council to give them a presentation on fluoridation - this will happen at the end of January 2001. Suggestion made that it could be useful to meet with the County Engineers and County Managers (e) Dr Cyrus Cooper, University of Southampton, was contacted by the Secretariat in order to invite him to give a presentation to the Forum; however, while Dr Cooper was willing to do so the pressure of previously arranged engagements (from now till end of May 2001) will, unfortunately, prevent him from doing so. Agreement that he should be invited to forward a submission. Dr Mullen suggested that Dr Caswell Evans from California be invited to give a presentation instead

(f) Agreement that Professor Hannu Hausen will be invited to forward a submission concentrating on the possible outcome(s) if fluoridation is withdrawn; agreement that he will also be invited to make a presentation if he is available to do so

(g) Dr Philip Michael of the IDEA has clarified (via Dr Cullen) that if their two questions (see no (ix), page 8 of minutes of meeting of 14 December 2000) are adequately addressed by the Forum then there may be no need for him to give a presentation - however, he is free to do so if the IDEA wish - April 2001 meeting suggested for this

(h) Dr Cullen has been in contact with Fr McDonagh, Chairman of VOICE - no decision has been made as yet by VOICE as regards whether they wish to make a presentation to the Forum - their Board is to have a meeting on Monday 15 January 2001 and Fr McDonagh is to contact Dr Cullen after that. The Forum stressed that VOICE would be very welcome to give a presentation as it is important to get the views of all concerned individuals and bodies

(i) The Chairman indicated that a small sub-group will be required to assist with the drafting of the Final Report - volunteers will be requested at a future meeting

(j) The Chairman thanked Dr Flanagan for his work in drafting material for the Forum's web site - Forum agreed that this was very worthwhile

(k) The video from Sligo Action Against Fluoride will be viewed at a future meeting

(l) Professor Clarkson will be contacted by the Secretariat to establish when would be convenient for him to give a presentation

(m) Names of paediatrician, nephrologist and toxicologist (to act as advisors) needed as soon as possible; Dr Gavin stated that he has been in contact with Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin - the Hospital indicated that they would be more than willing to provide relevant staff as advisors but they need specific questions/areas on which to focus so that they can provide the most appropriate staff members; a consultant in Beaumont Hospital has also indicated to Dr Gavin that he would be willing to advise on nephrology-related queries. The advisors may be asked to give a presentation - to be discussed at a future meeting. When the advisors have been agreed upon, the Secretariat will contact the relevant individuals in writing. Dr Gavin will liaise with Dr Cullen regarding the wording of the specific questions which the advisors will be asked to address

(n) A Principal Environmental Health Officer who was nominated at a previous meeting has agreed to give a presentation to the Forum on 8 February 2001.

Presentation by Professor Binchy

Q&A followed. Copy of text of presentation given to members.

Professor Binchy undertook to review the legal proceedings in relation to fluoridation which took place in the 1960's - will give a paper on his views in this regard to the Forum - this was very much welcomed by the Forum members particularly as the issues raised by Professor Binchy will be very important when drafting the Final Report.

Presentation by Ms Gallagher

Ms Gallagher had to leave the meeting as she was urgently required at another meeting so she was unable to give her presentation in person - however, she provided a copy of a synopsis of her comments on the issue for all of the members.

Interim Report

The Chairman presented the Interim Report to the Minister on 20 December 2000 and discussed Forum's progress thus far - Mr Martin TD expressed his appreciation of the Forum's work to date. The Minister stressed the need to get the views of the public and also mentioned that it would be useful to contact the County Councils for their views.

As mentioned above, the Interim Report was released to a journalist on 10 January 2001, with the consent of the Minister's Special Advisor.

Seeking Views of the Public

The Secretariat stated that the radio advertisements have gone to tender and it is hoped that the advertisements will commence in two-three weeks' time. There have been approximately 120 requests for the leaflet to date and approximately 12 completed submissions returned. The Chairman thanked Dr Flanagan for his work in relation to the leaflet and asked members for any other suggestions as regards eliciting the views of the public.

Discussion as regards the possibility of setting up focus groups for discussion with the public as suggested in Ms Barbagallo's submission - while this would be useful it was agreed that the timeframe given to the Forum to complete its work would not allow for this in adequate depth and it was agreed to incorporate recommendation(s) to this effect in the Final Report. The Report will not be the end of the discussion process - it is foreseen by the Forum that engagement of the public will continue thereafter.

Suggestion that the leaflets be left in public libraries, health board clinics, post offices, etc., in order to save people writing in for them - agreement that Secretariat will investigate feasibility of having them available (particularly in health centres) - if it can be arranged to have leaflets available in such places then it could be incorporated into the radio advertisements. It is crucial to get as many views from the public as possible. Other suggestions: (a) let people write in without using the leaflet, (b) advertise the full leaflet in the newspapers.

A member stated that a more robust qualitative study on public perceptions would be useful - Dr Beirne may be able to provide information in this regard.

Web Site

Notes drafted by Dr Flanagan were circulated prior to this meeting - agreement that the web site should be proceeded with on this basis. The Interim Report should also be put on the web site.

Sub Group: Dr Connett's "50 Reasons"

The Sub Group is to report back in March 2001 with draft responses to each of the 50 Reasons.

Future Activities of the Forum

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, University of Wales, Cardiff, has agreed to give a presentation on the "York Review" at the meeting on 8 March 2001 - it is important that the bio-statistician be present for this.

Agreement that the Forum will conclude the presentation aspect of their work by end of April 2001; at that stage small group(s) will work on drafting the Final Report - one full-day meeting will be scheduled at that stage (possibly the meeting in May 2001). At the meeting on 8 February 2001 the sub group which will be assisting in drafting the report will work on (a) setting out the table of contents for the report i.e. areas to be addressed and (b) outlining the areas of deficit which the Forum will need to address before completing its work.

Chairman asked that the Rapporteur prepare a second interim/progress report by March 2001.

Suggestion from the Rapporteur that the Forum visit a water plant to look at the fluoridation process - a member suggested that it might be better to visit one small plant and one big one; however, the decision on whether to visit or not was held over until after the presentation by a Principal Environmental Health Officer which is scheduled for 8 February 2001. If the visit to a plant is to go ahead, it would be on a separate day from that particular month's meeting of the Forum as meeting time is very valuable and the Forum has a lot of ground to cover.

Suggestion that Dr Cullen and any other new member who join the Forum should be given the opportunity to work with established sub-groups (such as the group working on the ''50 Reasons") - agreement that this was a good idea - Dr Cullen very welcome to participate in this. Also sub-group established to work on the questions put forward by the IDEA i.e.:

Dr Cullen
Dr Gavin
Dr Johnson

- to report back at meeting on 8 March 2001.

Date and location of next meeting

As agreed previously, the next meeting will be at 9.30am on Thursday 8 February 2001 in the Boardroom of Dublin Dental Hospital.

< Back to Minutes of Meetings Contents