MS Ireland is governed by a Board of voluntary members. These members have a wide range of experience and skill. Some have MS themselves or have family members with MS. Others have long careers in business, social services and other areas. The Board promotes the vision and aims of the Society and charges the Chief Executive to meet these aims through the various departments, services and resources of the Society.
Ms. Marcella Flood, Chairperson
Marcella is Head of Digital Transformation at Allianz Worldwide Care. She is a passionate people manager with over 29 years' experience in Financial Services, Operations and Technology. She started her career in the technology group at Bank of Ireland, but has also been involved in 3 start-ups, as well as large corporates such as Microsoft. She completed a Bachelor's Degree in Science at University College Dublin in 1988 and a Master's Degree in Business Administration at UCD Smurfit School in 1998, and more recently a Diploma in Corporate Governance at the Institute of Directors. Marcella is married with two children, living in South County Dublin.
Some of Marcella's family members have been diagnosed with MS, and so she is keen to contribute to the Society's aims of supporting those living with MS to live positive and active lives.
Mr Robin Bradley
Robin Bradley is a highly experienced company director and business transformation project manager. He is an ex banker who spent over thirty years analysing SME’s and large Corporate clients. He is a former member of the board of the Irish Credit Bureau. He brings experience in business management and strategic planning. He has worked abroad for many years and currently is a self employed financial consultant. Robin holds an MSC in organisational behaviour from Trinity College Dublin, a B.A in business studies from West London University and is a Qualified Financial Adviser from the Institute of Bankers in Dublin.
Robin is married with two children, living in Dublin.
Robin has a sister who is in long term care and is keen to lend his skills to MS Ireland which does so much to improve peoples lives.
Ms. Noelle Burke
Noelle Burke is the HR Director for RSA Insurance in Ireland. She is a Human Resources Professional with over 16 years’ experience in Technology, Manufacturing and Financial Services industries in Ireland & EMEA. She has a Masters in Strategic HR leadership and believes her greatest learnings have been from some of the brilliant leaders and mentors she has met throughout her career. She has enjoyed years of fun and success creating people focussed HR Strategies and delivering results through others.
Noelle has been involved in activities and fund raising for a number of communities and charities. She is married to Keith and lives in Kildare.
Noelle became interested in MS Ireland after a number of people in her life shared how their lives had been impacted by an MS diagnosis. She is keen to contribute in a positive way to allow those living with MS in Ireland flourish and reach their potential.
Mr. Thomas Cronin
Tom was married to Ellen for 27 years. Ellen lived with MS for 21 years and she sadly passed away in 2004. Tom has been a council rep on the board of MS Ireland for the last 3 years. He continues to apply his first hand experience of living with a Person with MS to the decisions being made at Board level and would aim thereby to improve the quality of life of persons with MS wherever possible. With the increased volume of governance and oversight required under the Charities Acts, Tom is very aware of the commitment required to fulfil his duties to the best of his ability and contribute to the success of the society going forward at branch, council and board level
Particularly over the last year as a member of the Governance Committee he has attended at least 7 meetings in addition to the usual bi-monthly board meetings to review the Constitution of the MS Society and recently the committee has commenced reviewing the Bye laws. He also has attended a number of Regional Meetings, Branch AGMs and ordinary branch meetings on behalf of the board of MS Ireland.
Tom has one daughter and lives in Mallow, Co. Cork. He is a retired telephone technician having worked with Eircom for 37 years. Tom is very active in the community. He is a member and former Chairman of the Cork City Branch of MS Ireland. He is currently Vice President of Mallow Credit Union having previously served as President for 4 yrs. He is treasurer of the local Board of MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service) in Mallow. He is a very active member of Mallow Development Partnership, a voluntary organisation set up to improve everyday life in the town in the area of Industry, Education, Science, Innovation etc. Tom has a Certificate in Credit Union Governance from UCC.
Dr. Edwina Dunne
Edwina has over 37 years national and international experience in health and social care services, across the public and private sector. She is driven by her passion to enable people deliver quality services and provide assurance on the level of compliance with standards regulations and policy. Edwina has extensive experience, knowledge, commitment and reputation as a practitioner, educationalist, leader and manager across corporate, clinical health and social care services. She has worked in large and small organisations, HSE, NHS, Canadian Hospitals and now with nursing homes.
Edwina started as an Occupational Therapist, moved into therapy management, healthcare management, key qualification here in OD, MSC Healthcare Management., and finally into senior national management in HSE, additionally, achieving a Doctorate in Business Administration DBA. .
Key recent: Edwina was the first head of Quality and Risk in the HSE, as an assistant National Director for Assurance She was the instigator, established and managed the national Healthcare audit service similar to (Internal audit) for clinical and social care services. As was the subject of her Doctorate she develops teams, gives people voice and encourages staff to think creatively and question ways of working and learning. She has an ability to identify where policy and procedure can be improved, engaging with staff at all levels to understand what standards and regulations mean in practice
Edwina retired from the HSE 2016, and now works as an ‘Empowering consultant’ (building capacity) with organisations in supporting compliance with HIQA regulations including as a member of the national Ambulance Service, national Quality and Safety Committee.
Edwina has one daughter who has twins and three sons, youngest son in final year in college.
Edwina enjoys living near Wexford town and near Curracloe beach.
Ms. Jacinta Kelly
Jacinta has more than fifteen year’s International Sales & Marketing experience, and a verifiable track record of achieving revenue, profit and market growth objectives, having held senior positions with blue-chip organisations, including Ericsson AB, VWR International, P&O Group & Exel Logistics (Deutsche Post).
In 2009, Jacinta took the decision to leave a full-time and travel demanding-career to take on, what she describes as her most rewarding and fulfilling role to-date, that of part-time carer for her father when his mobility became impaired resulting from stroke. At that time, motivated by a need to be based in Dublin and have flexible working hours, Jacinta established Firm Thinking, a freelance strategic marketing consultancy that works with large and SME clients in both private and charitable sectors formulating business & market growth strategy. In her capacity as freelance consultant, Jacinta has led the successful delivery of large scale strategic marketing consulting projects, covering areas such as business product launch, marketing strategy, on-line digital strategy, brand strategy and marketing communications.
Mr. Eugene Kearney
I have Multiple Sclerosis, as did my father and one of my cousins. I was diagnosed in 1990 at the age of 34.
I cannot overstate how valuable the services provided by MS Ireland, particularly by the Louth Branch and NE Region, have been to me and the many others who live each day with MS. These are services which must not only be protected but expanded.
My qualifications are in Industrial Engineering, Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. Following some years in Management Consultancy, I worked for 35 years with SIPTU, initially providing a technical perspective on issues which arose in all types of employment situations and had a national brief. As MS affected my mobility I worked as a Financial Analyst and Researcher and am now retired. I have also lectured at Third Level.
I have served as Board Member, Chair and Secretary of a number of NGO's over the years.
My professional and personal experiences allow me to offer a different and very necessary perspective to the work of the Society.
I am married with one daughter and live in County Louth.
Mr. Ian MacDougald
Ian MacDougald is the Country Manager for Vifor Pharmaceuticals in Ireland. He has worked in commercial roles in the pharmaceutical industry for over 15 years and has extensive knowledge of the Irish healthcare system from interacting with various hospital specialties and primary care healthcare providers.
He studied science at University College Dublin, before taking a Masters in International Business Administration in Bournemouth University. He also holds a graduate diploma in Management Practice from NUI Galway.
Ian has been a member of the Sustainability Committee (sub-committee of the Board of MS Ireland since 2015).
Ian is married with two children and lives very close to the MS Care Centre.
Mr. Rory Mulcahy SC
Rory Mulcahy is a Senior Counsel, dealing mainly with commercial, construction and planning disputes, and public law cases. He has also acted frequently for regulatory authorities, such as the Medical Council and the Nursing Board, in fitness to practise inquiries.
He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, before taking the Barrister-at-Law degree at the King's Inns. He also holds an LLM in Human Rights and Discrimination Law from Queen's University, Belfast, and a Diploma in Arbitration from University College, Dublin. He was called to the Bar in 1998 and was made a Senior Counsel in 2014.
He lives in Dublin, and is married with three children.
Mr. Maurice O’Connor, Deputy Chairperson
Maurice has twice experienced MS in his immediate and extended family. His brother Kieran (RIP, 2008) was diagnosed with MS in the early 1990’s and as a child his family often visited a cousin of his father’s who also had MS.
Since taking voluntary severance from a senior management position in ESB in 2012, Maurice has worked as a volunteer with MS Ireland in its South East Regional Office in Kilkenny. Maurice is also a member of the Secretariat of the Kilkenny County Public Participation Network.
While in ESB, Maurice, a Civil Engineer by training, held down a wide variety of roles such as IT project management, commercial and property portfolio management, health and safety management and procurement strategy. Maurice also trained and practiced as a business coach in ESB.
Maurice became a member of MSI’s Governance Committee in 2014.
He also loves playing, recording and listening to music, and has recently taken courses on disability equality and teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL).
Mr. Martin Power
Martin is chief Risk Officer at Octium, an international life company and a subsidiary of Banque Havilland in Luxembourg, He is an accountant with over 30 years in Financial Services in Investments, Risk and Financial Management. He started his career in Irish Life and was involved in a number of IFSC life companies such as SEB, Handelsbanken and Mediolanum. He is a Certified Accountant (FCCA) 1986, Retirement Planning 2015 with LIA and Operational risk with the Institute of Bankers.
Martin married with six children, living in Clontarf, Dublin.
Martin’s brother in law and one of his colleagues in Irish Life have been diagnosed with MS and he would like use his expertise to substantially improve the lives of those with MS.
Ms. Anne Restan
Anne is a lawyer working for the State in public law for the past 20 years having practiced as a barrister for 8 years before that. In her current role, she has gained a sound practical understanding of the importance and requirements of structured corporate governance. Anne also has a sound working knowledge of the framework within which MSI and its Board must operate.
Anne is a member of MSI’s Governance Committee and is the National Contact person for the People with MS Advisory Committee which advises the Board of MSIF (International Federation). She is a member of MSI’s Council, nominated by the South Dublin voluntary branch. Anne has been involved at all levels in the South Dublin Branch since its re-establishment several years ago
Anne lives in Dublin and is married with two daughters.
Ms. Mary Sheahan Lonergan
Mary has been a member of MSI since 1984 and in those years has been elected to various roles within the Fermoy branch, presently she is the Chairperson.
She is a “hands on” individual & thrives when organising, publicising and marketing the Fermoy Branch fundraising events. She is always looking for new ways to engage with the public, encouraging volunteerism & at the same time raising the profile of the society.
Mary is passionate about people’s ‘well-being’ & the society’s aim for supporting all those living with MS to live active & positive lives. Her connection & (involvement) within the local community affords her the ideal opportunity to promote, educate, encourage people to participate and engage with the society.“ The society has to have the necessary resources to function, we must be aware of opportunities, and we must also create opportunities, because standing still is not an option if we are to deliver the services & supports our members need and deserve”
Mary is a Kerry native, lives in Fermoy, Co. Cork.
We don’t always have the words to explain how we’re feeling. But unless we do, how can we ever really process these emotions? This week, Christina McDonald and Mary Devereux consider anger. Grieving can make you so angry. It comes in different forms; it can frighten you because you lose control like you never would have in a previous life. Anger is one of the stages of grief that we find ourselves re-visiting. It can be a difficult stage of grief that can creep in at any time. We can find ourselves grieving and angry over our lives pre-MS. You can find yourself alone at night, crying over feelings of worthlessness, plagued with self-doubt and questioning what your purpose in life is now. Sometimes you can even find yourself grieving the old you who didn’t get angry very often. We feel that anger can take control of our thoughts about life, ourselves and others around us. MS can take a lot away from you, so you become angry over the lack of freedom and spontaneity in your life, when every-little-thing must be planned. “I don’t even have the satisfaction to even walk out in an argument or drive off to calm down. My legs don’t work so fast anymore; MS cognitive issues took my car licence and my career so I am always coming back with my tail between my legs (so to speak).”- Mary You think about what you’re putting your loved ones through because they are also suffering, watching you from a distance. Sometimes you’re so angry with them you’re watching them thinking their life is going on without you. Deep down you know they have their own demons, that they’re trying to come to terms with the possibility of losing Mum or Dad or their partner. Losing the one they knew before the disease took hold. All you want is to be that person again. You can become angry when looking at friends and people your age- thinking they are doing GREAT things with their lives and you feel left behind. We know, we know... life is not a race and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. But for us it’s only natural when you’re living with a chronic illness. You can even find yourself getting angry with the people who “know that one other person with MS”. They tell you stories about how an “all green diet can cure MS”. Yes! CURE MS! This can make you so angry because if someone has met one person with MS... they know it all. Despite me knowing no two people with MS are the same. “Now, when people tell me about their miracle cure, the anger inside me turns to laughter and I just think to myself, if only I ate more lettuce, broccoli and peas, I’d be cured…. Not only that but I’d be carrying this miracle cure and making millions. Why didn’t I think of this before?!” -Christina
Internet services and supports for family carers Do you have 10 minutes to answer a few questions about internet services and supports for family carers? We know that a lot of family carers rely on the web for information, supports and socialising when unable to leave the house due to their caring responsibilities. The partners in National Carers Week would like to know a little bit more about how family carers use the internet supports available, and what supports aren't available but should be. The survey should take about 10 minutes and is completely anonymous. If you have any questions, email Zoe in Care Alliance Ireland (the organisation who coordintates the week) on firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to take the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCW2019
This week we get to ‘listen in’ on a conversation between Grace Kavanagh and Keith Byrne. They’re talking about the good days and the bad days, the ups and downs of life with MS and life in general. What does a bad day feel like to you? Grace: Everyone’s MS is different and so is everyone’s version of ‘bad’ days. I have been diagnosed with MS for 13 years now. Over that time my version of ‘bad’ days has changed as my MS has progressed. To be honest at this stage I don’t even rate days as good or bad, I just go with it and do what I can. I think that there are different kinds of ‘bad’ days. There are days where my body just won’t cooperate and I barely have the energy to blink. For me there is not a huge difference between physically good and bad days as I always struggle with fatigue and mobility so I try not to focus too much on my physicality. The worst for me are days when I am emotionally exhausted or just cannot motivate myself to engage with the world around me. Keith: Everyday there are a couple of hours where I just have to zone out. I’m unapproachable, I’m cranky and I can barely string a sentence together. My brain feels like it needs to shut down and reload. This is something I’ve come to accept rather than fight against. I don’t know if accepting fatigue is the right approach to take, however, it holds me in good stead if I manage to have an impromptu nap every other evening. I see my brain as a battery and time-out helps it re-energise albeit briefly. What works for you on bad days? Grace: I’ve had a lot of therapy and mindfulness practice to try deal with the negative spiral that can go on in your head when things are not going too well. I have a number of “distraction techniques” (fancy way of saying I bury my head in the sand for a bit) that take my mind off the negatives. For example I spend time with my cat, he always makes me laugh. I enjoy mindful colouring and play games on my phone. I can vastly improve a bad day by accepting my limitations and adjusting my plans for the day accordingly. That may well mean watching TV in bed but giving myself permission to do so means I’m not feeling guilty all day on top of everything else. Now that is an easy option for me since I don’t have a job to go to or children to look after but Keith you have both of these - how do you cope when downing tools isn’t an option? Keith: I have to admit it’s rare that I can take time out to look after myself as I know I should when having a ‘bad’ day. Having a full-time job and a toddler at home doesn’t really allow for it. I’ve tried therapy and mindfulness too. I did find them beneficial but when fatigue really kicked in, I lost interest. Although I know it’s not possible for many people with MS, keeping myself as active as possible is the best way I find to tackle the bad days. The high I get from running really stands to me. It helps me think straight and de-stress. I’m at a stage in my life where stress is unavoidable but the endorphins triggered by running at least make it manageable. Easier said than done particularly when fatigue and multiple other symptoms have you wiped, however, I would recommend anything that gets the brain pumping as a way to tackle the bad days. Asking for help Grace: We are both lucky enough to have understanding partners who pick up the slack for us when we are struggling. Do you find it difficult to ask for help? Keith: In some ways I’m a very stereotypical man and don’t like asking for directions. When we’re driving somewhere I’m unfamiliar with I will always rely on my wife to have Google Maps open and direct the way without asking her directly. It’s the same with asking for help. Sometimes I need a steer in the right direction and she’s the one who provides it. Yet I would never say directly “I need help” even when it’s blatantly obvious! It is important that someone close to you has an understanding of how you are affected by MS especially as we are all affected by it in so many different ways. Advice/Suggestions: Grace: I find a gratitude diary can be helpful when I’m in a dark mood. Writing down 3 things I am grateful for reminds me that there are good things in my life. Talking to someone who understands and has MS has been a big help to me; we can empathise with each other and maybe even laugh when brain fog hits and we can’t remember what we were talking about. Listen to upbeat music or watch funny videos on the internet. I read a blog somewhere that suggested having an emergency ‘bad’ day kit. You could put in a copy of your favourite book, chocolate or some other treat, perhaps your favourite movie. If at all possible get out of bed and get dressed. Try to achieve one small thing in the day, it might make you feel better. What would you suggest as a survival kit for bad days Keith? Keith: Some really good points Grace. I also find writing very therapeutic and the best possible remedy for brain fog. The thesaurus is my friend when I know what I want to say but just can’t think of the word – this happens easily one hundred times a day. Also, being kind to yourself is very important especially when we’re having a tough time of it. I’d definitely have a playlist of my favourite songs for my ‘bad’ day kit and maybe a YouTube playlist of historical sporting moments. Actually, on that note, I think I’ll watch Ireland beat Italy in the USA ’94 World Cup. I wonder if Paul McGrath still has Roberto Baggio in his pocket :)
Living with a Long Term Health Condition Self-care group programme that teach practical health-related skills. This programme is for adults 18 years and over. It is suitable for you if you are: living with one or more long-term health conditions (For example stroke, diabetes, heart failure, asthma, COPD, arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, depression, arthritis, Crohn’s, Colitis) caring for someone with a long-term health condition, depression, intellectual disability or dementia feeling low, anxious, unhappy or depressed Instructors/Tutors are specially trained to facilitate the workshops. All have personal experience of living with a long-term physical or mental health condition. Cost: €20 for 6 sessions, course handbook and refreshments Waterford: Sacred Heart Family Resource Centre, Richardson’s Meadows, Kilcohan, Co Waterford. Starts: Thursday the 11th April from 11am-1.30pm for 6 weeks. Book a place by ringing Joan or Gillian on 051 306728 or via Eventbrite Wexford: South West Wexford Family resource Centre, New Ross, Co Wexford. Starts: Monday 29th April 7pm-9.30pm for 6 weeks. Book by ringing Lana or Denis on 086 8163772 or via Eventbrite Carlow: Bagnelstown Family Resource Centre, Bagnelstown, Co Carlow. Starts: Friday the 3rd May from 10.30am-1pm for 6 weeks. Book by ringing Lana or Denis on 086 8163772 or via Eventbrite Part funded by the Lottery Grant from South East Community Healthcare (HSE)
This week Rosie Farrell shares with us how she has learnt the art of listening to her body. Ah, those three little words. The uncompleted tasks and treasures of today hang on those words. Like a carrot on a stick, they lure me into the future by promising me what the now can't deliver. Tomorrow I will… They may just be three little words but to me they mean the world because within them they hold hope, hope that tomorrow the pain will be better, that I'll manage that walk, hope that I'll finish that painting I've been too sore to work on. Hope is my fuel and it drives me through the tough days. There are never any guarantees with MS. I always have several back-up plans because I can often wake from a fitful sleep to find my pain has soared or my mobility has plummeted. I think that's the hardest thing about this disease, trying to grasp its ever-changing mood and adapt when the goalposts change daily, hourly even. To future-proof myself and how erratic my MS can be, you will always find a wheelchair in my car boot, or if you see me without a walking stick, there is always one folded up in my handbag, because if there's one thing I don't want this disease to take any more of, it’s my freedom. There's a real stigma around using a wheelchair though, and it doesn't do us any favours. I don't know how many times I've heard the word wheelchair used in an almost-end-of-the-road context where MS in concerned. And when we use it that way I don’t think we realise how much that ostracises those of us using wheelchairs, as if our MS is this separate disease - the worst-case scenario. Because of this I ended up in one of the loneliest places of my life because I had no idea that someone with relapsing-remitting MS may need a wheelchair and that using one is often just the sign of an unlucky relapse - a badly placed spinal lesion in my case - and not always a sign of progression. A negative attitude towards the wheelchair is a society-wide issue really. Every time I find myself unable to enter a building, it feels like society screaming at me to go home, to not bother. But using a wheelchair is NOT the worst thing that MS can do to you and if accepting its help is the difference between leaving the house or not, if it means you can board your flight and start your holiday without extreme fatigue, is it not worth it? If I’ve learned one thing it’s that my wheelchair only ever enables me, it’s the badly designed country we live in and the stares of people who aren’t used to seeing enough wheelchairs in their daily lives for that exact reason that disables me. The chronic pain I’ve developed with this disease is what I struggle most with and I’m so tired of popping pills to keep the beast at bay. I plan my tomorrow always mindful of that. Even now I’m writing this from the couch in fits and bursts after a dreadful night’s sleep, willing my painkillers to kick in. But this is where plan D comes in, this is where I snuggle up on the sofa with my husband and our little dog Trixie and our day bursts to the brim with love. It can be easy to spiral when you have to cancel plans and it’s only natural to be disappointed. However, I try to find a few things to be grateful for in each day no matter how tough they are. In doing so it bathes the day in a more positive glow The art of seizing tomorrow lies in listening to your body. This is a skill and in the early days I found a symptom diary helped me learn my triggers. I also find studying my calendar for the week ahead helps me keep things in check. I often open it on a Monday and start crossing out things I know will tip me over - and the people who matter always understand. So if there’s one piece of advice I can offer anyone with MS it’s that - learn the art of listening to your body. For me, my wheelchair has become my safety net because no matter how bad I feel, I always know that I can say “Tomorrow I will”, and that’s a beautiful thing.
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