21 October 2016
By Tom Collins
TV Personality, Author and former British Cabinet Minister Edwina Currie will be the Guest Speaker at The Cork Business Awards 2016 on November 25th. The former MP and Cabinet Minister is known as outspoken and controversial and served in the Government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. First elected as a conservative party MP in 1983, she was a Junior Health Minister for two years, before resigning in 1988 during the salmonella in eggs controversy. By the time she lost her seat as an MP in 1997, she had begun a new career as a novelist and broadcaster. She is the author of six novels and has also written four works of non-fiction. In 2002, publication of Currie’s Diaries (1987–92) caused a sensation, as they revealed a four-year affair with John Major between 1984 and 1988. Currie was born in south Liverpool to an Orthodox Jewish family. She is however not particularly religious, stating in a 2000 interview that she found “religious mumbo jumbo hard to swallow in any faith”. She studies at St Anne’s College Oxford subsequently, she gained an MA in economic history from the London School of Economics.
In September 1986, she became a Junior Health Minister but was forced to resign in December 1988 after she issued a warning about salmonella in British eggs The statement that “most of the egg production in this country, sadly, is now affected with salmonella” sparked outrage among farmers and egg producers, and caused egg sales in the country to decline rapidly, by 60 percent. The loss of revenue led to the slaughter of four million hens. Although the statement was widely interpreted as referring to “most eggs produced”, in fact it related to the egg production flock; there was indeed evidence that a mid-1980s regulation change had allowed salmonella to get a hold in flocks. However, Currie failed to clarify this distinction. To make amends, in 1990, she began the National Egg Awareness Campaign. The controversy gained her the nickname “Eggwina. Long after the furore died down, in 2001, it was revealed that a covered up Whitehall report produced months after Edwina Currie’s resignation found that there had been a “salmonella epidemic of considerable proportions”.
Michael Mulcahy Publisher of Business Cork said “for the 10th Anniversary of The Cork Business Awards, we wanted to expand the awards programme and also add an interesting Guest Speaker who has not spoken publicly in Cork before. I am delighted that Edwina Currie will join us on November 25th as she has an interesting view on life and I believe she will entertain us as well as enlighten us on many views that she holds. I am also delighted that Minister for Housing, Planning & Local Government Simon Coveney TD will be our Guest of Honour and that we will recognise and honour many great Cork businesses and people on the night”.