There has been renewed focus on the academic’s stance on the pandemic in recent days.
UCD PROFESSOR DOLORES Cahill has resigned as chair of the Irish Freedom Party and is no longer a member of the group.
Her departure from the fringe far right party comes in the wake of renewed focus on her stance on the pandemic and in particular her remarks at a protest event last week.
“The Ard Chomhairle of the party met on Sunday morning to consider this matter and have agreed to accept her resignation,” a statement said.
Michael Leahy, who was previously the vice chair, will take over in the role.
Speaking to The Journal this evening Leahy said Cahill had commitments to other organisations and was parting ways with the party to concentrate on those commitments.
Cahill, who is a faculty member at the UCD School of Medicine, could not be contacted for comment.
The academic has been in the spotlight in recent days after the UCD student union called on college authorities to investigate whether her activities and comments at an anti-lockdown event in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day amount to gross misconduct.
Billed as a ‘family and mental health day’, up to 500 anti-lockdown protestors attended the Herbert Park event and were addressed by Cahill, who told the crowd:
“Our beautiful, treasured elderly in the care homes: they are not prisoners.”
She told attendees to “invite [elderly people]for Sunday dinner” and then write to the “minister for health and prime minister of Ireland and say, ‘I want my granny to join me next Sunday’”.
She also accused gardaí of “criminal and unlawful behaviour” by enforcing Covid-19 restrictions and said that “if everybody just stopped wearing masks, this would be over”.
Cahill also incorrectly claimed that “asymptomatic people do not exist” and said that if children are required to wear masks, they “will never reach their IQ potential, because their brains are starved of oxygen”.
Professor Cahill has established herself as a staunch opponent of Covid-related public health restrictions since the start of the pandemic.
A number of her claims have been debunked by media outlets including The Journal and social media companies have taken down videos featuring her opinions on the pandemic.
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In the wake of the statement from the student union group on Friday it also emerged that gardaí had launched an investigation into a party at a Co Kildare castle owned by the professor, held on the eve of St Patrick’s Day.
Asked whether recent criticism of Cahill’s comments on the pandemic had been considered by the party’s leadership in advance of this evening’s announcement, Leahy said they had been discussed and that her recent comments had “raised some eyebrows”.
Leahy said that as chairman he would be prioritising organising the party for future elections.
Formally launched in 2018 to advocate for an Irish exit from the EU, the party targeted the 2019 European elections as its first electoral outing.
However, having failed to tick a box on its application form sent to the Oireachtas Registrar, the party was unable to contest the election as a full-fledged party. A number of members ran, unsuccessfully, as independents.
The party ran a total of 11 unsuccessful candidates in the general election last February, pulling in just 0.25% of the national vote.
– With reporting by Ian Curran