I believe Patricia McKenna is unfit for office if she will not back down on tot jabs
Mass vaccination has rid the world of smallpox. Polio now no longer exists in Europe.
Patricia McKenna has been in the news a lot recently. The former Green MEP was a prominent figure in the successful "No to Lisbon" campaign.
I have no problem with Ms McKenna's views on the Lisbon treaty. She is as entitled to her opinion on this dreary subject as anyone else.
However, Patricia has held other opinions that I believe are irrational and dangerous. Specifically, I am referring to her views on vaccination.
Ms McKenna has openly and repeatedly indicated her hostility towards the immunisation of Irish children against life-threatening illnesses.
In late 2006, she took part in a debate on RTE's Seoige and O'Shea show where she proudly proclaimed her refusal to have her own children vaccinated.
To be fair to Patricia she was at that time apparently supported by her party. Until February 2007, the Greens had an idiotic statement on their website informing voters "there are serious question marks over the benefit of mass vaccination programmes".
This lunatic policy was dropped like a hot snot by the Greens in the run up to the general election shortly after I brought it to public attention. Various party TDs were wheeled out to reassure the public that the Greens had no problem with universally-accepted medical science.
Unfortunately, Patricia decided not to play along with this spectacular u-turn.
Personally speaking, I believe that if Ms McKenna cannot unequivocally support vaccination programmes then she is unfit to hold elected office.
Mass vaccination has rid the world of smallpox. Polio now no longer exists in Europe. Tens of millions of human beings have been spared horrific deaths because of what is arguably the greatest achievement in medical history -- the ability to prevent infectious illness.
In the past decade, there were rumours about the safety of the Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. A UK-based researcher -- Dr Andrew Wakefield -- suggested a possible link with autism. This research has now been discredited.
Wakefield himself has been charged with professional misconduct.
The vaccine is safe -- end of story.
Unfortunately, the damage done by Wakefield and his hysterical followers was enormous. Vaccination rates fell all over Europe resulting in several outbreaks of measles.
During one of these outbreaks in Ireland in 2000, three children lost their lives. Since then vaccination rates are slowly returning to normal.
Unfortunately, for some people scientific reality cannot be accepted as fact. A hard-core element within our society remains fanatically opposed to vaccination.
Doctors dedicate their lives to saving our children from death and disability due to infectious diseases. It is depressing to consider that some public representatives deliberately choose to undermine their efforts.
The time has come for a more vigorous approach. I believe that the government should insist that all parents produce a full up-to-date vaccination certificate to claim children's benefit payments. This policy has been successfully used in other European countries and will ultimately save lives.
Patricia McKenna and her followers would undoubtedly scream in protest. Let them. On this issue, they should never be listened to.