When Dolores Cahill came to UCD in 2005, she was heralded as an incredible catch for the Belfield-based university’s research programs and their teaching programs as a full professor of the University College Dublin School of Medicine. Over the next ten years, Cahill succeeded in attracting millions of euros in research grants in the field of proteomics, a niche but incredibly lucrative field of research.

Dolores Cahill, who received her PhD from DCU is an expert in proteomics, the study of how proteins function and interact with each other is, but is not to quote former UCDSU President Conor Anderson, “an expert in the fields of virology, epidemiology, or public health, and so is not able to make credible academic claims on those topics.” Cahill has not been publishing scientific papers for several years, with the last paper she co-authored in 2016 being retracted by Oxford University Press “due to the discovery of significant errors relating to methods and presentation of results”.  

Described as a ‘Leading Purveyor of Misinformation’, Cahill has shifted from research to politics in recent years. This switch became clearer at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. So cast your mind back to June 9th 2020, to a world where very few people knew the name, Dolores Cahill, when social distancing wasn’t quite coined yet and talk of booster shots was at least 12 months away…

June 9, 2020 – UCD Doctor Makes Numerous False Claims About COVID-19

The College Tribune broke the story of an interview released on the 11th of May 2020 in which Dolores Cahill told an online right-wing YouTuber that she wanted to “debunk the narrative” sounding the covid-19 pandemic. Cahill claimed that the global lockdown in response to the COVID-19 crisis was unnecessary and stated that if we had quarantined people with underlying conditions and people over 80, then told them to take vitamins C and D and zinc for a few weeks, there would have been “no deaths”. The interview contained enough misinformation and untrue claims that the trusted fact-checker Health Feedback rated the interview as “based on inaccurate and misleading info”. 

At the time, now former-professor Dolores Cahill even claims that “practically everyone in the world” is immune to SARS, a claim which Health Feedback called “baseless, […] as the vast majority of the world’s population has not been exposed to the SARS virus and therefore cannot have developed immunity to the virus.” Both YouTube and Facebook removed the video from their platforms for violating their misinformation policies after Business Insider reported that the video was “filled with misleading claims about COVID-19”.

While time itself has gone a long way to combat the “inaccurate and misleading info” in the interview, students and alumna of UCD began to call on the college to speak out on Cahill’s claims. This was only compounded a few days later when Cahill was asked to resign from her position as vice-chair of the Scientific Committee of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

Following the inaccurate claims being made by their own professor, 133 medicine students studying at UCD penned a long and detailed letter to the Dean and Head of School of Medicine addressing the claims made by Cahill just one week previously. The letter stated that Professor Cahill’s “public statements are inconsistent with current science and epidemiology regarding COVID-19”. The letter continues; “it appears she is sharing biased, non-peer-reviewed data with low methodological quality which, when interpreted by the public as medical advice could endanger their own and public health”.

June 22, 2020 – UCD School of Medicine Addresses Professor Dolores Cahill’s Controversial COVID-19 Claims

A meeting was held the following week by the UCD School of Medicine to discuss the controversy of Professor Dolores Cahill’s false and misleading claims in which the medical school distanced itself from the now-former professor’s claims.

The head of UCD’s School of Medicine, Professor Michael Keane, made a statement to academic staff during Thursday’s meeting: “The school of medicine, college of health and agricultural sciences, the Conway Institute and the university, continue to fully support the public health position taken by the Irish Government concerning Covid-19. This includes treatment for COVID-19 patients and societal restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus […] The views expressed by Prof Dolores Cahill are her own. They do not reflect the position of the school, college, institute or university.” 

October 1, 2020 – Outrage as Medicine Freshers to Take Mandatory Dolores Cahill Module

Following this announcement, the trail of controversy went cold. Between June and October, Cahill went on a tour of different anti-lockdown protests across Europe despite the covid-19 travel restrictions. One such event took place on the 19th of September 2020 in Trafalgar square. Cahill attended the event expressing the view that “the coronavirus vaccine will “make people sick”, going against mainstream scientific opinion.”

Remember this speech she gave, it will become even more relevant later… ooh foreshadowing…

Just two weeks after the speech, it emerged that a core module for first-year medicine students would be taught by Professor Dolores Cahill. The Module Coordinator and lecturer of MDSA10210 Science Medicine and Society, Cahill would be charged to teach students about “the many ways in which recent discoveries and topical issues in science and medicine impact on our individual lives and on society.” Cahill was removed from her role as module coordinator and lecturer of the module following the ensuing outrage. Cahill did not hold any other teaching roles for the remainder of her time at UCD.

January 28th 2021 – Cahill Founds Anti-Covid Travel Agency

Despite a caseload of more than 6,000 per day, Cahill founded FAFTA, a new company officially titled Freedom Airway & Freedom Travel Alliance which promised to “assure that your family’s natural health rights while travelling are protected from injurious regulation and discriminatory policy”. All for a fee, of course, the FAFTA website was promising three different flights when the University Observer broke the story, all ranging from $499 to $999

Patrick’s Day Meeting – March 17th 2021

After threatening to sue the BBC for her inclusion in a panorama documentary titled ‘BBC 1 Panorama: Vaccines and the disinformation war’ for insinuating that she was against vaccinations, Cahill organised an anti-lockdown protest on St. Patrick’s day in Herbert Park. An estimated 150-200 people listened to Cahill say “This lockdown is based on lies” and “our elderly are not prisoners. Micheál Martin [and the government] have to provide evidence to put masks on our children. It is a disgrace.”

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.”

Following the anti-lockdown protest, University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) called upon the management of UCD to open an investigation into Cahill for “deliberate disregard for health and safety precautions likely to endanger another person” under statute 28 of The Universities Act 1997.

Gardai anti-lockdown
The increased Gardai presence at Herbert Park for the anti-lockdown ‘gathering’. Photo: Stephen Kisbey-Green

March 23, 2021 – Dolores Cahill UCD Professor Resigns As Freedom Party Chair

Following the online backlash against her Patrick’s Day festivities, Cahill resigned as the chairperson of the Irish Freedom Party, citing long-standing “differences of opinion.”. This news was soon followed by the Students’ Union holding an online town hall on the 29th of March, which was primarily attended by medical students. During the town hall, then UCDSU President Conor Anderson stated; “Without an expert background in the field, and with no research on her side, [Cahill] must not be taken seriously.”

With tensions mounting in UCD over her continued employment, Cahill decided to try her hand in the Dublin Bay South by-election as an independent candidate. Cahill’s candidacy ended at the third count, amounting to just 0.6%,179 votes, of the total valid poll but the main talking point from her candidacy came at the counting centre. 

Dolores Cahill attempted to push her way through a line of gardai and security officers to gain access to the count centre. She was denied access to the venue because she refused to wear a face mask in line with the covid-19 regulations. Numerous videos of the altercations made their way online, in which Cahill appeared to berate a number of Gardaí including the senior garda at the scene, Sergeant Hugh Shovlin. Shovlin went viral for the calm manner and witty responses to the accusations and claims Cahill made at t. At the time, it was reported in national newspapers that “Cahill attempted to make a citizens arrest of Sgt Shovlin, who continued to refute the claims she was making to the camera.”

August 18, 2021 – Arrest Warrant Issued for UCD Professor Dolores Cahill

In the end, however, it was not Shovlin who would have to deal with an arrest, citizen or otherwise, but instead, Cahill had a bench warrant issued against her by the Westminster Magistrates Court in the U.K. The warrant was for her ‘failure to answer bail’ in relation to two charges connected to the aforementioned rally held in Trafalgar Square on September 19, 2020, for a protest against virus restrictions and mass vaccinations.

Originally reported by Extra.ie, court records stated that Dolores Cahill, a Full Professor of the UCD School of Medicine was charged with being involved in the holding of a gathering of more than 30 people in an outdoor public place on September 19, 2020, at Trafalgar Square. It is alleged this was contrary to the coronavirus regulations in place at the time; participating in or organizing a gathering of more than six people in any place during the emergency period in England.

In an interview, Cahill states that she never gave an address to the London Metropolitan Police despite reports that she gave an invalid address in lieu of her own in September 2020, as well as branding the journalists reporting on her arrest warrant as fake news. The address quoted by Westminster Magistrates Court was not her home address, but instead an old office address for the Irish Freedom Party. Cahill would later publish her actual address when she ran for election in the Dublin Bay South by-election which was picked up by the court subsequently. Cahill was scheduled to appear at a court date in the run-up to the start of term; the courts have yet to release the details of that date to the press.

September 18th, 2021 – Dolores Cahill GONE from UCD

As demonstrated by the front cover of this publication, The College Tribune can confirm that after 16 years Dolores Cahill is no longer an employee of University College Dublin, finally bringing an end to this part of the controversial saga! At this time it is unknown whether Cahill has retired or been let go from the university. It is very difficult to fire or force the departure of a tenured academic in Ireland. Cahill claims she wrote a letter of her intention to resign to UCD President Andrew Deeks in April of this year and sources within the university claim that Cahill had previously mentioned the possibility of retirement from academia in 2019 following the sale of Protagen AG, a spin-out company from the Max Planck Institute which Cahill co-founded in 1996. Shortly after the sale of the company, Cahill purchased White Castle in Athy.

Adam Conway – Cahill’s exit from UCD may have been prematurely sparked by allegations of her involvement in the early departure of Joe McCarron from Letterkenny University Hospital. A video wildly circulated on social media by a man who helped him exit the hospital claimed that Prof. Cahill was on the phone “all day long” in an attempt to help Mr McCarron leave Letterkenny hospital. Mr McCarron, through a Facebook post from a friend, had said that he felt much better after having been discharged. However, he was then re-admitted to hospital a number of days later and was understood to be in critical condition. Early reports alleged that Mr McCarron had passed away, however, it was later revealed that the man was still alive but still in critical condition. His current health status, at the time of writing, is unknown.

Hugh Dooley – News Editor