Revealed: former UCD academic has ties to the ‘Common Law’ group that aided Joe McCarron’s fateful hospital departure
Covid conspiracy theorist and former UCD professor Dolores Cahill has spent much of the last year-and-a-half spreading misleading claims about the pandemic throughout Ireland and the rest of the world.
Cahill was once a well-respected immunologist but her controversial views on Covid-19 are regularly dismissed by her former peers and other experts. Her repeated false claims about the vaccines available to combat the coronavirus are having a potentially damaging and dangerous effect on public health — but it is her influence on those who believe her wild assertions that is emerging as an area of serious concern.
A case in point is the sad story of one of her followers — Donegal native and Covid-sceptic Joe McCarron — who died days after being taken from Letterkenny University Hospital by his so-called “friends”.
Gardaí are now investigating allegations Cahill was involved in the incident, with claims there had been communication between her and McCarron’s family and friends on the day he was removed from hospital.
The Sunday Independent has learned that Cahill has links to the controversial ‘Common Law’ Covid conspiracy group — which McCarron was a member of and which aided his exit from hospital.
It is understood that when the former radio presenter was in hospital, a member of the group approached his family to say Cahill would be in touch with them.
“Dolores Cahill was in touch with Joe’s family on the weekend before he was removed from the hospital,” said a family friend.
His removal sparked controversy and, having been readmitted to hospital two days later, McCarron died on September 24.
Videos shared online also claim that Cahill was in regular telephone contact on the same date with Antonio Mureddu, the far-right extremist who led McCarron’s removal from the hospital.
Mureddu, a member of the Covid conspiracy group endorsed by Cahill, has become central to the Garda investigation into the events leading to McCarron’s removal from the hospital.
A message posted on Mureddu’s social media account ‘The Italian Job’ on September 14 praised the involvement of Cahill, saying she “did a fantastic job working tirelessly with the team”.
When first contacted by this newspaper on September 23, Cahill denied the events in Letterkenny had anything to do with her and advised us to contact “whoever is behind The Italian Job”.
But an investigation by this newspaper not only reveals the long-standing relationship with Cahill and the anti-vaxxer Mureddu, but Cahill’s involvement in the ‘Common Law’ Covid conspiracy group in Donegal.
When asked on September 23 if she was a member of ‘Common Law Society’, which it has sometimes been referred to, Cahill replied: “I don’t know anything about it.” However, there is no denying she is a part of the ‘Common Law’ movement. A photograph posted on social media earlier this year shows Cahill wearing a velvet cape beside a sign that reads ‘Common Law Court’.
Another photograph shows a poster attached to the door of the castle she owns in Co Kildare on June 12 and 13 claiming a mock trial was taking place inside “to take back our God-given rights by our creator by due process”. The poster stated that “court proceedings” would take place at 10.30am and “silence” and “stillness” was required, adding: “Adhere to the rules please … as cases being heard are very serious matters.”
An Athy businessman, who took the photograph of the poster and observed several people arrive at Cahill’s property, said: “I had one of them in my shop without a mask and as a local business person it was concerning to me that they were holding a kangaroo court over the road to go after people like me.”
On June 19, Cahill announced in a Facebook post that she had become a ‘Common Law Court peace constable trainer’ and is pictured with others, including a retired detective whom the post claimed was taking a “private criminal prosecution” against the then British health secretary.
Cahill also took part in an interview on September 29 which was posted online in which she incorrectly claimed doctors, pharmacists and teachers who endorse the Covid vaccination are engaging in “criminal behaviour”.
“What we are doing in the UK and Ireland is training people … every man and woman has the same power as the police,” said Cahill, claiming there are over 10,000 ‘peace constables’ in the UK.
“We have held juries, you have a jury of 12. They can look and say, ‘did this head teacher commit a crime?’
“The children should be told not to be in school. If an injection team come, they should leave.”
Back on July 12, Cahill was pictured visiting the ‘Common Law Information Centre’ in Ballybofey where she was pictured speaking to members.
The photograph of her visit was posted by Tom Dignam — the former Sinn Féin election candidate who has also been peddling Covid-19 mistruths for months.
In a Facebook post, Dignam confirmed Cahill had addressed a “large audience” along with Alicia Keane, who was her election agent when she contested the Dublin Bay South by-election days before. Keane had also spoken at the same ‘Common Law’ gathering back in April.
On ‘The Italian Job’ Telegram channel, Cahill’s name has been mentioned at least 10 times since August, but it is a reference in a post and a video on September 14 about McCarron’s removal that is of particular interest.
Mureddu praised Cahill, whom he said “was on the phone all day long trying to sort out this one”.
In another video posted the next day, Mureddu said his “goal with Professor Dolores Cahill and all the boys involved in ‘Common Law’ is to save as many lives as possible”.
Mureddu — who did not return our calls last week — wrote a post explaining how he believed ‘Common Law’ has “precedence over all corporations and tyranny”.
“‘Common Law’ is so powerful, they [the hospital staff] tried to stop me in every way that was possible. It did not work for them.”
The Sunday Independent first contacted Cahill on September 23 before McCarron had died. (She did not return our calls last week.)
SI: “I want to ask you about the events in Donegal and your involvement — what can you tell me about it?”
DC: “I don’t really have any comment on that.”
SI: “I have just watched a video, and in that video one of your colleagues claims you were instrumental in the removal of the patient from Letterkenny Hospital last week.”
DC: “I don’t have any comment on that.”
SI: “What is the ‘Common Law Society?’”
DC: “You can ask them, I am not anything to do with them.”
SI: “Are you not a member?”
DC: “I don’t know anything about it.”
SI: “Your name is all over it. In fact, it’s claimed in a Telegram account called the The Italian Job that you were the person who instructed Antonio to remove that patient from Donegal. Do you take responsibility for how that patient is right now?”
DC: “So listen, I had no… that was nothing to do with me. If you write that, that is incorrect. You should really talk to the patient and the patient’s family and those people of Donegal and whoever it is behind The Italian Job and if you write anything different to that then obviously [the Sunday Independent] will have to be accountable.”
SI: “Are you making it very clear that you had absolutely nothing to do with the events in Letterkenny?”
DC: “No, no, I didn’t say that. You asked me about the ‘Common Law Society’ … you contact the family. I am not really making a statement. If you are making an allegation you contact all those people.”
On September 13, one day before McCarron was taken from hospital, Mureddu was pictured speaking at a packed ‘Common Law’ meeting in Donegal.
But his connection with Cahill goes back further than earlier this month.
They were pictured together at a far-right rally on November 16, 2019, and he was in her company when she tried to ‘arrest’ a garda at the count centre on July 9.
Cahill, who has claimed Covid-19 is a hoax, has a wide-ranging portfolio of pandemic-inspired businesses.
Over the past year, she has set up or co-founded a number of business ventures, including ‘Freedom Travel Alliance’ — a private air charter — which asks for a minimum donation of $100 (€86) and intends to operate without the need to quarantine, wear a mask or get a vaccine.
Another business venture, Custodean, aims to create a “platform to enable individuals to be custodians of their own heritage, health and futures”. It used to offer memberships, but the web page is now gone.
Happen.Network — a digital media and social platform “that curates honest, independent news on topics that directly affect your life” — has Cahill as the only officer.
This is a media company producing anti-vaxx/Covid conspiracy content and lists memberships in exchange for Q&As with the production team costing between £25 (€29) and £100.
Cahill is also seeking $300,000 in funding through a charity called the Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge to conduct research on the “evaluation of qRT-PCR testing used in the diagnosis of pathogens such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus”.
Members also have to pay €20 to join World Freedom Alliance, which was co-founded by Cahill and partners with a number of groups, including the New Earth Project, an initiative that aims to create a new kind of society by encouraging people to give up their “dependency on others to make your decisions and provide for you” and “reclaim their sovereign birthright”.
She is also a founding member of the World Doctors Alliance — a group of 12 ‘doctors’ from eight different countries who claim Covid-19 doesn’t exist.
Cahill and her followers take issue when her comments are regularly debunked, including the assertion that wrongly claims Covid-19 vaccines are going to kill children.
She has also falsely claimed that the coronaviruses only cause illness and symptoms in the northern hemisphere between December and April.
And she has said that masks, social distancing, lockdowns and quarantining are not needed and has touted unproven treatments as cures for the disease.
Dr David Robert Grimes, a scientist and author who focuses on the spread of medical conspiracy theories, has said claims by Cahill and others have been “actively harmful to both societal understanding of science and public health”.
“There are multiple reasons why people might choose to do this; many of them have a profound ideological disposition strong enough to distort their grasp on evidence, which leads them to cherry-pick facts out of context.
“Others simply adore the attention and kudos their contrarian position brings. Narcissism is a persistent psychological finding in many who evangelise conspiracy theories.”
Aoife Gallagher, who works for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue dedicated to challenging disinformation, has been following Cahill’s utterances since the start of the pandemic.
Ms Gallagher believes McCarron’s death “highlights how a number of different movements have coalesced around Covid denial, including
anti-vaccine groups, far-right sovereign citizen groups, new-age health movements and QAnon-type beliefs.
“Joe’s story came into the public consciousness because it was caught on video, but I dread to think of how many more similar tragedies are out there that we don’t know about.”