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.
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.
Mr. Paddy Stronge
Paddy worked for over 40 years in Bank of Ireland and since his retirement he has been involved in training and consultancy both in Ireland and overseas. He has lectured in Finance for the Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business, the Irish Institute of Bankers and the National College of Ireland. He is a qualified accountant and has been a director of a number of companies. He was financial adviser to the Dublin Simon Community for many years. He has also contributed articles in national newspapers on banking and finance matters. Paddy would like to assist in the activities of MS Ireland particularly as some family members have been diagnosed with MS.
The faces of the MS & Me blog are changing. Trevis Gleason gives his thoughts on the difficulties that change can bring but also the benefits of adapting to different times. Multiple sclerosis can be overwhelming… and not in the good way. We at the MS & Me blog are overwhelmed right now… but in the good way. Earlier this autumn we put out a call for writers as we close out our fourth year in existence and look ahead. In those four years, your blog (we see this space not belonging to the writers alone; we are a blog community, so it belongs to us all) has been recognised domestically and abroad as being one of the most affecting and poignant health blogs on the web. As for our current cadre of bloggers, we’ve had our share of personal successes (and challenges) as well. We have become parents and grandparents (as well as aunties or uncles multiple times), we’ve changed jobs, advanced in our careers, or got our first jobs back after having to leave previous employment because of MS. We’ve published books, produced films, been recognized for our personal blogs, and brought our personal works as well as the work of MS Ireland to a European and international audience. For some our MS has stabilised, for others it has advanced. For the past four years we have shared our thoughts, our reactions, our hopes, fears, and dreams with you. It’s been a fair bit of work; trying to fit it all in sometimes. But it’s been important work and we think living with MS might just be a little bit easier because of the space we have created within our blog community. And why do I now say that we’re overwhelmed? Because so many have seen the results and have applied to join this “MS & Me 2.0” as we expand. Four years ago we felt ourselves lucky to find nine people who might be willing to jump aboard as voluntary crew on this ship of discovery. We, frankly, weren’t sure about our course and we were surely ingenuous as to a possible destination. What we have learned is that our vessel is making waves in the form of an international conversation and we need a few more hands on deck to continue our voyage. As we spend the next few weeks reviewing submissions (well over a score this time), know that the process is to be transparent and the pitch level. Our current bloggers who would like to stay on have been asked to submit their intent the same way that newcomers have. It’s not a comfortable process for any of us – growth seldom is – but it’s an exciting time. As the year draws to a close and we put together our new team, we’ll bring back a few posts that you may have missed, some particularly pertinent writings and perhaps a laugh or two. We look forward to introducing you to our team in the New Year and sharing our views of living (and living with MS) through several new and newly polished lenses. It’s a season of celebration and change. We celebrate what MS & Me has been and we celebrate the changes currently underway… but it’s still a bit overwhelming. Wishing you and your family the best of health. Cheers Trevis Trevis’ Award-Winning books, Chef Interrupted, and Dingle Dinners are in the shops now. Follow him via Life With MS Facebook page, on Twitter and don’t forget to check out TrevisLGleason.com
Ocrelizumab recommended for licencing by European Medicines Agency for relapsing remitting and early primary progressive MS The European Medicines Agency recommends licensing for ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) for treating relapsing and primary progressive MS. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended that a licence should be granted for ocrelizumab for the treatment of both active relapsing MS and early active primary progressive MS. The recommendation states: "Ocrevus is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (RMS) with active disease defined by clinical or imaging features. Ocrevus is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with early primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) in terms of disease duration and level of disability, and with imaging features characteristic of inflammatory activity." The next step in the approval process is for the European Commission to grant the licence, taking into the consideration the EMA's recommendation. Ocrelizumab will then be assessed by the National Centre for Pharmaco-economics (NCPE) in Ireland who will make a recommendation to the HSE about reimbursement. MS Ireland will make a Patient Group Submission to the NCPE as part of this process and we will be doing everything we can to try and make this medication available to Irish people with MS as soon as possible. About ocrelizumab Ocrelizumab is taken as an intravenous infusion (drip). The first dose is given as two separate infusions, two weeks apart. Further doses are given as one infusion every six months. In clinical trials for relapsing MS, ocrelizumab reduced the risk of relapses by 50% compared to beta interferon (Rebif), reduced disability progression and the number of lesions seen on MRI scans. For primary progressive MS, people taking ocrelizumab were 24% less likely to experience increased disability compared to those taking placebo. Across all the clinical trials, infusion-related reactions, chest infections and herpes (oral herpes and shingles) were more frequent in those taking ocrelizumab. Further information is available here
This week Aoife Kirwan discusses 'brain blips' Cognitive blips or brain blips are the second most irritating MS related issue that I deal with. I am 29 years old and rely on lists, diaries, reminders and alarms to make sure I don’t forget to do things. This really bothers me from time to time. My brain doesn’t always agree to keep up with the pace of my lifestyle. I like to be busy, but my brain does not! My cognitive issues seem to go hand in hand with fatigue, so if I manage one, I seem to manage the other. I often wonder whether the fatigue is causing my cognitive issues or whether it’s the other way around?? I do find when I get tired, my brain slows down, I begin doing things absentmindedly, I lose my train of thought and have trouble finding the right word. I also misplace things- my phone, my car keys, my car! I have often parked somewhere and after a few hours shopping forgotten what level/location!! There are times that my brain blips have caused endless laughs. One morning I was quietly getting ready for work, I was running a few minutes late and trying to get ready at a faster pace than my brain could manage. After all the fussing, getting bags packed, lunch made, checking the iron was off and door was locked, I got out to the car and was on my way to work when I realised - I had forgotten to put my skirt on. It's a situation where you could laugh or cry, but I opt to laugh at these things. Something that bugs me, and I can't seem to laugh at is when I go to Google something, then look blankly at the screen as I try to remember what it was that prompted me to open Google in the first place. It was my focus seconds ago and then nothing, it's gone. Similarly I can walk into a room and completely forget why I went in there in the first place. Losing my train of thought or having difficulty finding my words is particularly irritating during an argument or debate. I hate when I have a strong and valid point to make and when an opening to share my pearls of wisdom presents itself - it's gone, no words come out and victory escapes me once again. Later I think of what I was going to say that would have swayed things in my direction, but what good is later! I have learned to know my limitations and accept them. I know that I hit a wall around 3pm for about two hours. I try to work around this, I use this time to do less complicated tasks and go back to more complex jobs once I have come out of that slump. Making sure I am well rested and hydrated is very important too. As I say, lists, diaries, alarms and reminders - while I complain they are indeed helpful tools to make sure I stay on top of things. Whether someone lives with MS or not, we all have blips now and then and that's okay. Do any of you have any useful tips to help with memory or cognition?
Fund for students with disabilities to be extended to part-time students The operation of a €10m fund for college students with disabilities is to be reformed to ensure more people benefit and with fewer delays. The fund for students with disabilities exists to financially assist students with disabilities while they are in education. Students apply to the fund via the Disability Support Service in their college. The fund can be used for: Assistive technology equipment and support Personal and Academic Support Transport To date, this fund has only been available to full-time students, however one of the reforms recommended by a recent review was that it be extended to part-time students also. You can read more about financial supports available to students on page 9 of the latest issue of MS News
They say of men and doctors, we don’t go if it’s not bleeding, broken and still gets up. Trevis Gleason went to the doctor… Last weekend, with the changing of the clocks and 60 minutes added to our night, The MS Society of the UK posted a series of blogs under the header “A Sextra Hour”. In our MS & Me Blog of last week, Emma took us into the EMSP bedroom (not to mention her own) and talked about what nice Irish women “aren’t supposed to” talk about. I suppose it’s my turn to turn down the duvet on issues men with multiple sclerosis might face in the bedroom. It’s a serious subject, but let’s remember that sex is fun (and can even be funny), so I may poke a bit of fun as we talk about this topic. Age or MS? It’s not uncommon for people with multiple sclerosis to ask ourselves if something going on with us is, indeed, our MS or if it’s just aging. Men’s sex drive - both mental and physical – can decrease with age. It is important to remember that. Saying that, however, I know of men better than a decade older than me with satisfying sex lives so don’t put it all down to age. The physical function of obtaining and maintaining an erection might be first on the list of considerations for the lads, but sex is more than inserting tab A into slot B, as if you’re assembling Scandinavian furniture. Besides, we all know there are tablets, injections and “appliances” that can help with that arena. The reasons behind such disfunction can be complex; from demyelination of nerves leading from big brain to ‘little brain’ to emotional and physiological issues we heap on ourselves when it comes to performance. It’s important you talk to your doctor, as well as your partner, about concerns in the ‘mechanics’ of sexuality. Feeling all the Feels Loss of sensation in general or specific regions of the body can also have negative effect on our sex lives. Some parts of my body are hyper-sensitive, others have lost some (or all) level of ability to feel touch. But as important as feeling the physical is important in sex, the emotional connection is important as well. Men don’t always get that… do we, ladies? All the parts Every part of our body and its systems can be touched by multiple sclerosis. It’s not just the sex parts that can lead to difficulty between the sheets. If legs make it difficult to walk, flipping and flopping around the bed like we may have when we were younger could be difficult if not impossible. Weak arms can also make sexual positioning a challenge There’s an old joke that God must have been a civil engineer because no one else would put a waste disposal pipeline next to a recreational area. Bladder and bowel issues with MS can have a rather embarrassing result when it comes to sex. Your Massive Sex Organ Here’s the thing, there are work arounds for many MS sexual issues, you just have to use your head. I can’t do much of my everyday living the way I used to do it. Why then would I think that I should expect the sexual part of my life to go on the same way? This is where communication comes into play. We must talk about what’s working and what’s not. We can have frank (and fun!) conversations about how to give and receive sexual pleasure with our partners. A chat with your MS doctor or nurse might seem embarrassing but, trust me, it’s better than giving up such an important and fulfilling part of a relationship. They say that our biggest sex organ is our brain. Use it, men (and women), to its fullest advantage and your life in the bedroom (or wherever it is you might fancy a ride) could be great again… different, perhaps, but still great. Wishing you and your family the best of health. Cheers Trevis Trevis’ Award-Winning book, Chef Interrupted, is in the shops now. Follow him via our Life With MS Facebook page, on Twitter and don’t forget to check out TrevisLGleason.com
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