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.
Mr. Paddy Stronge, Chairman
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.
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 aims to apply his personal 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 for People with MS, whenever possible.
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 of the Cork City Branch of MS Ireland. He is former Chairman of the Branch. He is currently President of Mallow Credit Union, is a member of the local Board of MABS (Money Advise and Budgeting Service) in Mallow. He also sits on a committee dealing with dementia care and awareness in the community. Tom recently completed a Certificate in Credit Union Governance from UCC.
Ms. Marcella Flood, Deputy Chairperson
Marcella is a Director in the operations group at Microsoft Ireland. She is a passionate people manager with over 25 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, before moving to Microsoft in 2010. She completed a Bachelor's Degree in Business with University College Dublin in 1988 and a Master Degree in Business Administration with UCD Smurfit School in 1998.
Marcella is married with two children, living in South County Dublin.
Marcella is keen to contribute to the Societies aims of supporting those living with MS to live positive and active lives.
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
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).
Ms. Anne Restan (Bio and photo for insertion)
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.
Dr. Kilian Smith
Dr Kilian Smith is a Scientist who works in the Nuclear Safety/Emergency Preparedness section of the Environmental Protection Agency. He has had considerable experience in the past as a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Experimental Physics in University College Dublin.
Dr Smith has represented Ireland on a number of International committees and working groups. He is currently a member of a number of European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, and Nuclear Energy Authority expert groups. He is also involved in the development and application of computer models that simulate the transfer of radiation in the environment.
Originally from Cavan, Kilian is married with one son and is living in Dublin. Kilian was diagnosed with MS in January 2009 and has been a member of MS Ireland since then. He has always been keenly interested in disability issues in Ireland as his sister has been a wheelchair user since infancy.
This week we have a guest blogger, Michelle Henley from Cork. She has kindly shared her story with us. We’re calling it 'Love, Family and Grand Plans'. Share your comments and the story with others. This time two years ago life was great, I had returned to education. I had my life together and had begun training as a hairdresser, had two beautiful kids and a beautiful home for my little family. Okay, so being a single mother was never in the Grand Plan, but we were happy. Life was great. How things can change in the space of a few weeks…. On the 14th of February 2015 just before my 25th birthday my whole world came crashing down around me. It was on this day that my GP said four words that changed my life forever, “Michelle, it's Multiple Sclerosis”. How did it feel to hear those words? I have no idea, I was numb. Unable to feel anything. Honestly, I had no idea what multiple sclerosis even was but I just knew it wasn’t good. Looking back now I can’t remember the day properly I was in such a haze. I remember my GP trying to explain the diagnosis to me in simple terms and try to put a positive spin on it. Sitting in my car trying to make sense of it all, crying until there were no more tears left to cry. Stumbling in home to tell my family the news I had received, watching my father’s face crumble in heartbreak, looking into my mother’s eyes as she struggled to stop herself from collapsing in devastation, watching the worry spread across my aunt's face, looking at my two-year-old son playing on the floor, oblivious to what was going on and watching my seven-year-old daughter outside playing happily with her friends. At that point I had no understanding of the diagnosis and worry set in. What about my kids? Will I be able to look after them? Will we no longer be the three musketeers? Will I be in a wheelchair? How bad is this really? All of these questions in my head and nobody to answer them. In the days that followed I tried my best to hold it together, my children were my reason to get up each morning and for them I had no choice but to continue as I always had. I would get up and get through my day, get them ready for school/childminder, go to college, come home and do the same routine as every other day. By day I tried to suppress how I felt, it was the only way I could get through. I would block it out and hoped it would go away. I was so scared of what this meant for us and how we would cope. But by night, when the kids were safely tucked up in bed, I would fall apart. A few weeks later I woke up with the whole left-hand side of my body numb/tingly as if someone had drawn a line down the middle of my body. My right side was unaffected but the left side completely dead. Panic set in and I had no idea of what to do, what was wrong with me? Is this MS? Is this numbness the start of my deterioration? I called my GP and he sent me straight to the Mercy University Hospital, I was admitted and ended up staying for a week. Again, another hazy period of time, a blur of blood tests, lumbar punctures, IV steroids, prodding and poking, eyes exams, MRI scans, x-rays, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, teams of doctors, student doctors, endless questionnaires, sympathetic looks, big words and phrases I didn’t understand. Relapse? Symptoms? Lesions? Exacerbations? Gilenya? Tecfidera? I remember feeling the most alone and scared I had ever felt in my life. I couldn’t even have visitors as the hospital was closed to outsiders. Being away from my children absolutely broke my heart, I had never been away from them for so long. I just spent a week lying there feeling empty, lonely and broken. Looking back now I have one massive positive from that week and that is the neurology team that I am under. Dr O’Toole and my MS nurse Niamh have been a tower of support when I have needed them. Dr O’Toole came to my bedside, sat with me and answered my questions as best she could. She provided me with so much vital information and introduced me to the wonderful organisation that is MS Ireland. I did start to feel a little more positive after this conversation, although perhaps that could have been more to do with the fact that she told me I could go home the following day, more than me being more understanding of the diagnosis! My mother collected me from hospital and I couldn’t get into the car quick enough to see my beautiful babies sitting in the back. One thing I will never forget is the smiles that beamed from ear to ear on both their faces when they saw me. In the days that followed I was over the moon to be home with my children and family again. The kids didn’t leave me out of their sight in case I would disappear again- I still can’t so much as have a shower in peace! They are still checking up on me but I don’t mind, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I did suffer from severe migraines and back pain for a few weeks after but slowly they started to become less regular until they stopped completely and life stated slowly to return to normal. I started to pull out the information leaflets and booklets I’d been given and set upon the task of understating and managing this disease. I started trawling through the MS Ireland website and have never looked back. All the information I needed was right there, I even got to read other people’s stories. Eventually I plucked up the courage to pick up the phone and get in touch with a woman from MS Ireland called Patricia Lucey. That was the single best phone call I have ever made. She has been a rock for me to stand on, always there to talk and, more importantly, to listen. She has made several house calls to me and has even introduced me to meditation to help me manage my anxiety. Without the support of Patricia and MS Ireland I don’t know where I would be today or what version of myself I would be. I know not everyone is as lucky as I am and do suffer a lot more than I do, I am merely trying to encourage fellow MS’ers to try grab the positive and run with it. There will be days when that seems the impossible but there is always a positive. You just have to find it…. This is not the end of her story. Michelle is going to jump out of a plane to raise money for the work of MS Ireland. To donate and read more about Michelle visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Michelle-Hanley3
Saturday night’s Ray D’arcy show featured an interview with person with MS Kate Tobin. MS Ireland has produced a Briefing Document and Position Paper on advanced MS, which provides information on some of the topics Kate touched on in her interview. MS Ireland’s confidential Information Line 18500 233 233 is open Monday to Friday 10am to 2pm for anyone who has been affected by the issues discussed on the programme.
Queen’s University researchers make major brain repair discovery in fight against Multiple Sclerosis Queen’s University Belfast scientists have discovered that specific cells from the immune system are key players in brain repair – a fundamental breakthrough that could revolutionise the treatment of debilitating neurological disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The research study, led by Dr Yvonne Dombrowski and Dr Denise Fitzgerald at the Wellcome Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast, is being hailed as a landmark study in unravelling the mysteries of how the brain repairs damage. This is crucial in the fight against MS, which affects 2.3 million people world-wide and over 4,500 people in Northern Ireland. MS is the most common neurological disease affecting young adults and is the result of damage to myelin, the protective sheath surrounding nerve fibres of the central nervous system – the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. In MS, the immune system wrongly attacks the myelin sheath covering nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord, which can lead to symptoms such as vision loss, pain, fatigue and paralysis. Until now, medical treatment could limit relapses but could not reverse the damage already done by the condition. The exciting aspect of this new research is that the team have uncovered beneficial effects of immune cells in myelin repair that have potential to reverse myelin damage. The study was an international collaboration including experts in Cambridge, San Francisco, Edinburgh, Maynooth and Nice. The research breakthrough, which has been published today in Nature Neuroscience, shows that a protein made by certain cells within the immune system triggers the brain’s stem cells to mature into oligodendrocytes that repair myelin. The discovery means that researchers can now use this new knowledge to develop medicines which will boost these particular cells and develop an entirely new class of treatments for the future. Speaking about the importance of the new research, Dr Dombrowski, who is the lead author of the report, explained: “At Queen’s we are taking a unique and fresh approach to uncover how the immune system drives brain repair. This knowledge is essential to designing future treatments that tackle neurological diseases, such as MS, in a new way – repairing damage rather than only reducing attacks. In the future, combining these approaches will deliver better outcomes for patients.” Senior author of the study, Dr Denise Fitzgerald from Queen’s, experienced a condition similar to MS, called Transverse Myelitis when she was 21 and had to learn to walk again. Commenting on the findings, Dr Fitzgerald said: “This pioneering research, led by our team at Queen’s, is an exciting collaboration of top scientists from different disciplines at Cambridge, San Francisco, Edinburgh and Nice. It is by bringing together these experts from immunology, neuroscience and stem cell biology that we have been able to make this landmark discovery. “This is an important step forward in understanding how the brain and spinal cord is naturally repaired and opens up new therapeutic potential for myelin regeneration in patients. We continue to work together to advance knowledge and push the boundaries of scientific knowledge for the benefits of patients and society, in a bid to change lives for the better, across the globe.” This work was supported by a number of funders including the BBSRC, Wellcome Trust and Leverhulme Trust. Media inquiries to Emma Gallagher, Communications Officer at Queen’s University on 028 9097 5384 and email@example.com Further reading MS Ireland conducted an interview with Dr Denise Fitzgerald about her work, which appeared in issue 2 of our research eZine MS Research. Download the eZine and read the interview
MS Ireland launches new publications ‘Time to Act’ and ‘MS Treatment Decisions’ MS Ireland is delighted to launch two major new publications, ‘Time to Act – A consensus on early treatment’ and ‘MS Treatment Decisions’ in Brain Awareness Week 2017. Time to Act - A consensus on early treatment is a consensus statement on early diagnosis and treatment in MS. Based on a paper published by the UK MS Society in September 2015, this document outlines and reviews the latest research evidence regarding the importance of starting treatment with a disease modifying therapy (DMT) as soon as possible after diagnosis. In adapting this paper for the Irish context, MS Ireland consulted with a group of Irish neurologists with a specialist interest in MS. Time to Act contains detailed recommendations for policy makers and clinicians, and MS Ireland envisages that this will be a valuable tool in helping us to advocate for greater investment in neurology services in Ireland and better access to treatment and care for people with MS. MS Treatment Decisions - is for people with MS or suspected MS. It aims to empower and equip people with MS or suspected MS to: Understand the importance of early diagnosis and early treatment (if appropriate) Explain to healthcare professionals what is most important to them and what their treatment goals are Ask questions until they feel they have all the information they need to make informed decisions regarding their treatment and care Understand the importance of regular MRI scanning to monitor disease activity, and be able to discuss scan results and their implications with healthcare professionals Be able to monitor their MS by keeping records of symptoms and other factors that impact on health and wellbeing, such as side effects from treatments Be confident when engaging in discussions with healthcare professionals about treatment options, so the decision-making can be shared MS Treatment Decisions was developed in consultation with neurologists, MS nurses and people with MS. Information was also taken from ‘Brain Health: A Guide for People with Multiple Sclerosis’, published by Oxford PhramaGenesis. In addition to the people with MS and the clinicians acknowledged in the documents, MS Ireland would also like to thank Mags Rogers from the Neurological Alliance of Ireland for her assistance and Sanofi Genzyme who supported the development of the publications with an unrestricted grant. (Left to right) Harriet Doig, Information, Advocacy and Research Officer from MS Ireland, Professor Tim Lynch, one of the four neurologists who participated in MS Ireland’s Advisory Board, and Fred Doherty, Sanofi Genzyme. Further reading: MS Ireland has developed a guide to the National Clinical Programme for Neurology Model of Care, which was launched in September 2016 and is referenced throughout Time to Act. This guide presents a summary of the Model of Care document, with particular reference to how it relates to people with MS. This can be downloaded here MS Ireland’s ‘Societal Costs of Multiple Sclerosis in Ireland 2015’ report can be downloaded here Get in touch: For further information and questions regarding these documents, or to obtain hard copies, please email Harriet Doig, Information, Advocacy and Research Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week Declan Groeger shares his MS 'Fears' My MS fears have changed over time and yet they have stayed the same. You see I never really worried about what MS would do to me but how it would affect my family. My first fear, post diagnosis, concerned my ability to continue working; the ability to provide for my family and continue in the hunter/gatherer role. Would my MS progress rapidly, rob me of my independence, confine me to a wheelchair and make me a burden on my family. I was 31 years old with two small children and I just didn’t know the answers and I was worried. I worried whether either of my two children would have MS; that fear is still with me. As you know more women are diagnosed with MS and I have two daughters. There is a hereditary factor with MS and I have a maternal uncle who lives with MS; the odds were stacking against my two girls. I have twenty nieces and nephews and many of them have children of their own and I have a grandson. I sometimes wonder whether any of them will have MS. Would I be able to continue with my fair share of household duties or would Jean have to carry a disproportionate load, whilst maintaining her nursing career? We found our level and Jean never complained but I did feel ‘guilty’ for not doing enough. Jean’s proportion has grown steadily over the years as mine has decreased but this is no longer a cause of worry; it is reality. I had a number of other concerns but most of those only became relevant as an event approached; Birthday Parties, First Communions, Confirmations, Graduations, Holidays. Would I be an active participant or merely an observer? I did play an active part in all of these events. As my MS progressed and my precious girls matured into young women I worried if I would I be able to walk them up the aisle if they decided to marry? The girls did decide to marry and with a combination of grit, determination, pure stubbornness and a massive amount of positivity from the wedding guests I managed to fulfil my role as ‘Father of the Bride’ and walked up the aisle with both girls. When I heard that I was to become a grandad I worried whether I would be able to play with our grandson Jack? Would I be able to hold and cuddle him? The good news is that this fear/worry was very short lived and Jack will be loved as much, if not more, than any grandson in history. Our playtime together will be different but every bit as enjoyable. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is different for each and every one of us and my one piece of advice to anyone diagnosed with MS would be not to be consumed by fear and worry. A diagnosis with MS is life-changing not life ending (although it may feel like that at the time). Don't forget to check out able2access.wordpress.com
10:00 - 13:30
11:00 - 12:30
10:00 - 13:30
11:00 - 12:00
09:45 - 11:30
11:00 - 12:00
20:00 - 21:30
19:00 - 20:00
North Dublin A...
19:30 - 21:30
09:45 - 11:15