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A founding member of the Irish Freedom Party, Michael Leahy has said he was the “obvious choice” to replace Dolores Cahill as the party’s Chairperson.

Professor Cahill who is a faculty member at the UCD School of Medicine resigned from the role on Sunday night. The Tipperary woman claimed last week that the “lockdown is based on lies” and has regularly questioned the science behind the wearing of face masks during the pandemic.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Corofin resident Leahy outlined that there had been “differences” between Cahill and party members over the past four months. “Professor Cahill is a very capable person, we were lucky to have her for a period of time but I would not consider her departure to be a blow, she had gone in a different direction and was concentrating very much on the issues of vaccination and the scientific interpretation of how to cope with lockdown, she was making certain pronouncements that we felt we couldn’t stand over and for that reason we were trying to resolve those issues and it resulted in her resignation”.

Her departure was a mutual decision, Michael said with the party no longer content to stand by her views while Dolores was not willing “to remain quiet on the issue” of vaccinations. He was voted in as Chairman following her departure. “I’ve been an active senior member of the party since its foundation 18 months ago, I’ve been acting as the Vice Chairman for that time. When we parted ways with Professor Cahill I was the obvious choice”.

Members of the Irish Freedom Party have broke public health restrictions since August of last year by attending large gatherings, travelling outside of their 5km radius for non-essential journeys and increasing the risk of the virus’ spread at big events by holding rallies and protests.

Eliminated on the third count of the General Election last year, Leahy is hopeful that their “significant amount of new members” will translate to electoral support. The party currently has no county councillors or Oireachtas members. The architect and planner described the lockdown as “dreadful” and “largely unnecessary” instead believing “the correct response was to sequester those at very high-risk and let the economy proceed and let ordinary people go about their normal business”.

Michael who was a board member of An Bord Pleanála and spent time living in Kilrush is keen to ensure the party is better organised nationally. At present, there is one cumann of the Irish Freedom Party in the county, located in Ennis with between 30 to 35 members. “We need at least two if not three in the county, whether we will do that remains to be seen. We have 35 active members here, whether they will roll up the sleeves and do the work remains to be seen. We’re going to concentrate on developing the Ennis cumann for the time being, we will see if we can then have cumanns in the east and west of the county”.

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