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.
This week Grace Kavanagh writes about what the International Day of People With Disabilities means to her and what we as individuals understand about living with a disability. I’ll forgive you if you weren’t aware that there was such a thing as International Day of People With Disabilities. I wasn’t either before some research. It is an initiative set up by the UN in 1992 to promote understanding of disability issues and to raise support for those with disabilities to enable them to participate equally in society. It is held yearly on December 3rd and the theme for this year is “Inclusion is for everybody”. The day is recognised at the UN headquarters in New York with organisations and groups around the world encouraged to hold their own events. I love the idea of social equality but think in reality we have a long way to go. Raising awareness is one thing but raising understanding and empathy is quite another and this is where I think the focus should be. So what do I as a person with disability think the International Day of People With Disabilities should include? I don’t think any one person can understand all the challenges people with differing disabilities face and I certainly can’t speak for everyone. I do however think that we all need to think a bit more about other people and try not to be entirely caught up in our own worlds. We have all been guilty of unknowingly causing issues for others by our actions so here are some things to consider in our everyday lives that might have an impact on people with disabilities. ● Viewing things from the perspective of the person with a disability would help us all to see how our actions can impede others. It could also help us to be less irritated or frustrated when we understand the challenges the other person is facing. ● Experiences that give an insight into the life of someone with a disability can really boost understanding. For example the MSunderstood cafe gives people the opportunity to view the world from the perspective of someone living with MS. I’ll be sending my husband when it comes back to Dublin! ● In a similar way, I know of a charity for the visually impaired that requires employees to spend time wearing glasses that distort vision and use a wheelchair so they understand the difficulties people they work with may have. ● I taught computing to a lady with hearing difficulties. She had a sign language interpreter who enabled her to be an equal participant in the class. I learnt to address my comments to her and not her interpreter, just as I would with any other member of the class. ● Think before you park your car! Parking on pavements or up on the kerb leaves no safe route for people in wheelchairs, while parking in disabled bays when you don’t need to means a person with a disability can’t use the facility. ● Don’t get me started on the pavements in Dublin! They are a hazard to everyone but in particular those with mobility issues. Try not to add to the problem by leaving obstructions like bins on the path. Disabilities aren’t always visible. You don’t know what someone else is coping with just by looking at them. They could be living with chronic pain but look fine. Try not to judge what you don’t know. Check out Grace’s blog, www.mycrazymslife.com for her perspective on living with multiple sclerosis. Join in the activities of the UN International Day of People With Disabilities click here
Living with a Neurological Condition in Ireland Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI) have launched a new survey "Living with a Neurological Condition in Ireland" to examine the practical issues faced by people with neurological conditions & their families. You can complete this survey if you are an adult (over 18 years), diagnosed with a neurological condition or if you are a family member currently caring for an adult with a neurological condition. The survey should only take 10-15 minutes to complete and your replies are completely confidential. The closing date for responses is Friday 14th December 2018. Get in touch If you have any questions about completing the survey, you can e mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (01) 8724120. originally published 9.11.2018
This week Aoife Kirwan writes about the upcoming event for Young People with MS on 29th November 2018 (6pm-8pm) in the Davenport Hotel, Dublin. Register for the event here For almost eight years I have been living with the knowledge that I have MS. My diagnosis came at a time when I was just getting started in adult life. Years of education were behind me and I was in the final months of my degree. Prior to my diagnosis, I had a very clear vision of what I wanted in life, what I wanted to do, to be, to become. This moment in time changed everything for me. The future I had envisioned for myself was now unclear. The main symptom that I had was optic neuritis in my right eye which left me with just about 2% vision in that eye. I had been working towards becoming a secondary school art teacher. I felt like I had to say goodbye to that idea, as I didn’t feel it would be a secure enough given the issue I had with my sight. I felt like I was at a crossroads. It was still early enough to change my mind about the best path forward but that didn’t make it easy. The promises that I had made myself were destined to remain unfulfilled. I feared what was to come because for years I had been looking in one direction and this diagnosis forced me to look around. It made me uncomfortable. The way I felt about myself and the way I felt the world saw me, changed. My sense of identity was shaken. I didn’t think a support group would be my kind of thing. I didn’t like the diagnosis; I was all about trying to be positive and felt that the niggling negative thoughts might grow stronger if I saw other people who were more seriously disabled by MS than me. What I didn’t realise then was that I needed connection. To speak to others my age who were living with MS. I needed information that was relevant to me, support around decisions that we often come up against in early adult life like education, relationships, self-acceptance. Early adult life sees people lay the foundation blocks for their future and I needed support with making my foundation solid. Next Thursday, November 29th MS Ireland, in collaboration with Novartis, is hosting MS Explored, an information and support event for young people living with multiple sclerosis (18-35). Speakers include Moira Tzitzika who will talk about Relationships and Intimacy. Moira has a PhD in Psychology and specialises in Disability Counselling and Sexual Medicine at the European Society of Sexual Medicine. Psychologist Karen Belshaw, founder of Stress Management Ireland, will speak on Mental Resilience and past-president of the Union of Students Ireland, Michael Kerrigan will show us Road-mapping for Success. This event will take place in the Davenport Hotel, Dublin from 6-8pm. A live stream will be available for those who are not able to attend in person. Students unions around the country have been incredibly helpful in organising on-campus hubs where the live stream will be shown. Questions for the speakers can be sent in by direct messaging our social media platforms. The event is free to attend but please register using the following link: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/ms-explored-meeting-tickets-52707199653 This is a great opportunity for young people living with MS to meet with their community. Connecting with others who are at a similar stage of life and navigating similar issues can be a very empowering experience and I look forward to seeing you there.
Monday, November 19th is International Men’s Day, a celebration of the positive value men bring to the world, their families and their communities. Today Keith Byrne shares his experience and talks about ‘manning up to MS’. I've been lucky to share my life with some great men. My Dad, my Granddads, extended family members, colleagues and friends. I think that's what made it so hard for me to initially open up about my MS diagnosis. It was as if I didn't belong in the same category as these men that I idolised. I in no way tick any of the pre-requisites society associates with being a ‘manly man’. I'm not the strong/silent type or ‘tall, dark & handsome’ at 5ft. 4 and bald. There is also the statistic that more than twice as many women are diagnosed with MS than men. I was a gamma male, never to be an alpha. Yet being diagnosed with MS awoke a strength in me that I always knew was there yet I never felt I had a reason to channel it. Once I came to terms with my diagnosis things started to improve both mentally and physically. This didn't happen overnight. It took a number of months as well as discussions with my MS nurse, nutritionist and my close family too. Eventually, after my first ‘MS Newly Diagnosed Day’ I gathered the strength to come out of the MS closet. Talking about my diagnosis is something I've learned to be very comfortable with. I've since done newspaper and radio interviews. I also started seeing a counsellor. Over the summer, I took part in a video for my job to promote mental health awareness. As part of the promotion for the video, I was asked to speak to a group of approximately fifty of my peers (most of whom I'd never met in person). Each scenario has been a massive challenge as each time I felt totally out of my comfort zone. I can develop an inherent shakiness in these circumstances and I'm conscious that might come across when I'm talking to a crowd of people. Yet I find each time I challenge myself, I’m a little less nervous and little more brave the next time around. It can't be underestimated how much stress affects our health. I'm intentionally putting myself in situations where my confidence is stretched to its core. It might sound like I'm bringing unnecessary burdens upon myself but there is method to the madness. I feel that, by deliberately challenging myself, I might be that little bit more prepared for situations that are out of my control. I wouldn't say I do this on a daily basis. Ultimately, I have relapse remitting MS From time to time I need a break away from everything. Outside of the daily challenges caused by MS, like fatigue and brain fog, my biggest challenge to date was the Dublin Marathon at the end of October. In the 3 and a half years or so since my mobility and vision returned back to a somewhat acceptable level I've been trying maintain an active lifestyle. A couple of lunchtime runs a week and maybe a longer one at the weekend led to me signing up for the marathon. The crowds of people out showing their support from the outset of the 26.2-mile trek was so uplifting. I especially felt humbled when I was struggling around mile 20 and I got a pat on the back from a guy as he ran past wearing the same TeamMS t-shirt as me, "Come on pal not long to go, you can do it". Thanks for the motivation and I'm proud to say I did do it! On the way into the marathon I met a man from Cork who was in Dublin for the day just to run it. We shared a taxi into town. He told me he was 66 and on his 313th marathon. An unbelievable achievement by any means but he also said he only ran his first one in 1999. I'm sure he had his reasons for starting something so taxing relatively late in life and it made me think; we all have our own path to follow and sometimes we get knocked off track. MS has certainly changed the course of my path. Perhaps, in some strange way, it's helped point me in the right direction. I no longer feel inferior to the men who inspire me. I have gained the awareness to realise they already see me as their equal. To all the men out there, fellow MSers, Carers, well-wishers and generally sound lads I'll leave you with this quote by Liverpudlian songwriter John Power: "Someone will always be more than I'll ever be so then I'll be myself"
Now CLOSED for applications The IPPOSI Patient Education Programme 2019 is now open for applications (Deadline for receipt of applications midnight on Sunday, November 18th 2018). The programme delivers training for patients, carers and advocates living in the Republic of Ireland on health research and innovation. This includes education modules on clinical trials, medicines regulatory affairs and health technology assessment. The programme is designed to enable and empower more patients and patient advocates to work effectively with Irish and EU-level health research & technology partners, agencies & authorities. Further details on the programme and how to apply are available here. Potential candidates may be interested in these short videos, which capture student feedback on last year’s pilot programme and their reasons for taking part.
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