By Ronan McCreevy
UCD academic and owner of White Castle in Athy, Prof Dolores Cahill has resigned as chair of the Irish Freedom Party.
She caused anger in Athy after reportedly hosting a party of around 60 people at White Castle on the eve of St Patrick’s Day, last week.
The ard chomhairle of the party met on Sunday morning to consider her position and said it had agreed to accept her resignation. Clare architect Michael Leahy will replace her.
She quit four days after making unsubstantiated claims at an anti-lockdown rally in Dublin’s Herbert Park that children who wore face masks were being “starved” of oxygen and would have lower IQ.
“Wake up parents. Oxygen is required for your brain to function and I am saying to the children and teenagers of the world, to their parents and teachers, the individual ministers and prime ministers across the world have failed you,” she said.
“The reason that the globalists are pulling down the masks is that oxygen-deprived people are easier to manipulate. If the police stopped doing criminal and unlawful behaviour, this thing would be over. If everybody just stopped wearing masks, this would be over.”
Irish Freedom Party founder Hermann Kelly said Prof Cahill was busy with other organisations and “didn’t have sufficient time for party duty”.
He did not respond to a question as to whether her comments in Herbert Park were relevant to her resignation.
In a statement posted on its website the party described Prof Cahill as an “exceptionally talented person” and a “fearless advocate of freedom at a time of great upheaval in Ireland and around the world.
“She publicly defended our natural freedoms to travel, work, worship and meet our families in a time of lockdown.”
Prof Cahill could not be reached for comment on Monday.
The UCD academic stood twice for election for the party. She received 10,582 votes (1.5 per cent) when standing in the 2019 European elections and was second last in the Tipperary constituency in last year’s general election with 0.6 per cent of the votes (521 votes).
Prof Cahill is Professor of Translational Science at the UCD School of Medicine.
She has been one of the leading advocates against lockdown and mask-wearing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
UCD has stated that the views expressed by Prof Cahill are her own. “They do not reflect the position of the university,” the university said in a statement last week which also stressed that she is not teaching in UCD this year.
UCD maintains that academic freedom allows staff members to take controversial views outside the university.