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.
On Fathers Day Niall McGahon shares his thoughts on life with MS and being a Dad to Seán (2 years old) and newborn Robyn I am a father, not to just one little being in the shape of the handsome 2-year-old Seán anymore, but to another child in our beautiful little girl Robyn! How did that happen…. well you know what I mean. Today is Father’s Day and the latest addition to our family has given me another jolt of perspective - I am not the centre of the universe anymore. The laughter and smiles of a 2-year-old and 2-month-old should be able to pull anyone out of the darkest moods they may be in. However, becoming a father these last 2 years, has made me more acutely aware of my MS. In my current state, I may not be the father that I thought I would be, and I may need to think about my approach to fatherhood slightly differently. Growing up I was very much used to having a kick about with my dad or during the summer heading ‘out the back’ for a few holes. I can’t kick a ball the way I used to, let alone play golf the way I want to. I’m going to have to take a totally different road than the one I had drawn out for myself. You know what, that’s ok because it’s not for me, it for my kids. I don’t need to play football or golf to be the best Dad …. They might not like sport anyways!! My focus is going to be building fantastic relationships with my children. As they grow up, hopefully they will understand why I can’t run with them around the park or put them on my shoulders. For the immediate future I just want to enjoy seeing them blossom and watching their little characters develop. In doing this, I hope that they will still have a normal childhood. This is where I may become even more dependent on my wife than I already am. She may need to do some of the heavy lifting that I may not be able to do. It doesn’t make me any less of a father or emasculates me, I just can’t do it and we’re ok with that. The target is to give myself the best possible chance of doing the running and playing with my kids. Between exercise, diet and meditation I can do it. If my wife is anything to do with it, I will do it. I also must be aware that our house is gradually turning into an amazing obstacle course - Crypton Factor level, with Lego, books, toys, hurls, the odd nappy strewn everywhere. Not ideal for a person with mobility and balance issues! But I love a good challenge. It’s great to be in the middle of and oddly enough for me it takes my mind off the real challenges I face. When I’m with my children, MS doesn’t matter, my mind is clear, and my pains subside. Don’t get me wrong the MS is very much there and visible when I’m trying to get up from a good tickling session, but it fades away with the sound of chuckling and shouts of ‘stop dadi’. I need to concentrate on the things that I can do with my kids and enjoy them to the ninth degree. I always wanted to be the best or win the race. I now realise that if all I can give my kids is my time then that’s a lot more important than winning any race. Hopefully it makes me No.1 Dad, that’s more than good enough for me. I have MS but it does not have me. I have children, they will always have me.
Research shows online supports vital as majority of carers feel isolated in their role Ireland’s 360,000 family carers are being celebrated this week as National Carers Week takes place across the country with scores of events being organised specifically for those who care for their loved ones. However, research being published today (Monday) as part of this 13th National Carers Week, indicates that many family carers continue to be unable to leave their own home and depend heavily on online supports for information, support and social connection. Care Alliance Ireland, in partnership with the eleven other National Carers Week partner groups recently undertook a survey of 300 family carers across Ireland. The full report is available here Over half (59%) of respondents said they felt lonely or isolated either ‘often’ or ‘always’, with a further 37% saying they ‘sometimes’ felt that way. Only 3% of respondents said they could ‘always’ make it to social and support events that they would like to get to – with almost a quarter (23%) saying they can ‘never’ get to those kinds of events. Over half the respondents are members of online support groups and 76% have looked up information regarding the health of their loved one online. Speaking about the research, Zoe Hughes, Policy & Research Officer with Care Alliance Ireland said; “It’s clear that the lack of on-the-ground supports like respite and home care is having a huge impact on family carers being able to take a break and seek supports – meaning that online supports are increasingly become vital for many of those who are isolated and lonely in their role”. Following from the results of the research, Care Alliance Ireland are hosting an online coffee morning for those family carers who are unable to make it to the many events happening across the country from 10-16th June. Carers who would like to take part should check the National Carers Week Facebook Page for details.
This week Robert Joyce shares his thoughts on World MS Day and invisible symptoms Every year we take one day, May 30, to tell the world about Multiple Sclerosis. This post is on ‘our’ blog where we share our experiences of MS and its impact on our lives. I am the audience we write for and I know when I write ‘pins & needles’, your heads will nod. You have experienced this and many other symptoms, many of which are invisible. This World MS Day we are going to share with the wider world what it is like to have invisible symptoms, and the impact they have on our lives. In the last year there have been two projects showing how these (invisible symptoms) feel. In Ireland we had the MSunderstood Cafe starting as a pop up experience in Dublin and then it toured the country in a bus. When someone without this disease walked in and tried to move an impossible heavy chair or couldn’t focus on the blurry menu, they felt for a moment, this illness. The second project was the film ‘Hidden’ produced by Shift.MS. It followed a young woman on her journey through the day and you could see how difficult it is experiencing something you cannot share. On this day our aim is to move these stories outside of our group to the wider community to share them with people who have no experience of MS. Experiences like the crushing fatigue that makes every movement leaden and difficult, to lost sensation in our fingers making the world feel like some coarse sandpaper, limbs refusing to move like they once did, pain manifesting in so many ways in so many places or L’Hermittes that causes an electric shock to run from your neck to your bottom just because you nodded your head! The world will not know what it is like to live with MS unless we, the people in the MS community, tell them. On this day the spotlight will shine on us all over the world. If you are from Connemara, the USA or India, the message will be the same. We have invisible symptoms we cannot escape from and we cannot fix. MS is incurable. By sharing this message we will be pushing to get more understanding of our daily lives and to get more research to find solutions to our medical needs. On the World MS Day website you will find events taking place all around Ireland and the world. We encourage you to take part in any way possible. It can be online through Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or maybe at a coffee morning hosted by your local branch. Take part so the wider community, your local community, will understand a little bit of what it is like to live with Multiple Sclerosis.
My name is Maggie Green… I live in Donegal with my two beautiful children, Abigail (8) and Conor (7), my partner Danny and my Great Dane Blue. I was diagnosed in October 2016 with Relasping Remitting MS ( RRMS) and to say that it came as a shock is an understatement! What I thought was a trapped nerve, turned out to be a life changing diagnosis! Initially, we were terrified and all I could focus on were worst case scenarios, but when I was referred to Professor Niall Tubridy in St. Vincent's Hospital this was a big turning point for me. He helped me to realise that I just needed to keep living my life and to manage my MS as effectively as possible. He also helped me to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. Overall, I have been pretty lucky and I count my blessings every day! I work full time as a primary school teacher, teaching children with autism in Letterkenny Educate Together National School and I love my job. The children I teach are incredible and they teach me something new every single day. My Support Network I come from a very big family and they have been wonderful. They are always there for us when things get tough, and sometimes when you live with MS things can get particularly tough. They are always just a phone call away ready to help in any way they can. My mother and father have been unbelievably supportive and I don't think that we would have gotten through the last few years without them. My children Abigail and Conor know that I have MS and know that sometimes I get very tired easily. They know that my body doesn't always do what I want it to do! We've explained to them that it’s a bit like a computer that has a few faults! Why am I taking part in the Mini Marathon this year? I want to raise more awareness about MS. I want to help raise funds for MS Ireland and the amazing supports they provide to people like me living with MS. I can't change the fact that I have MS but I feel that I need to do something so my something is trying to contribute to the MS community in some small way. I feel really lucky that I am physically able to do this. Although I might not be saying that by the end of the Mini Marathon!!! My partner Danny and I are getting married four weeks after the Mini Marathon and I cannot wait to walk up the aisle and share our special day with family and friends. We have come through a lot but MS is just one part of our story. You can still join Maggie & Team MS Ireland on the 2nd June. Sign up today! Or get in touch with Melanie at firstname.lastname@example.org #GetActiveForMS
NEW Research shows that 44% of Irish people have poor understanding of the symptoms and nature of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Research study commissioned by MS Ireland and Novartis Ireland to mark World MS Day 2019 explores the public’s awareness of the visible and invisible symptoms of MS 93% of people in Ireland claim to be aware of MS, more than 44% consider their understanding of the symptoms and details of the condition to be poor with nearly one third of respondents unable to list any symptoms related to MS.1 This new research conducted in April 2019 by IPSOS/MRBI, was revealed to mark World MS Day on 30th May 2019 by MS Ireland and Novartis who join with MS organisations around the world as part of the ‘My Invisible MS’ (#MyInvisibleMS) campaign exploring public awareness around the invisible symptoms of MS and the impact it can have on day to day life. Although more than a third of the population (37%) claim to have a family member, friend, or loved one living with MS, and 66% of people in Ireland believe they have a good understanding of MS, there are still some key aspects of the condition that remain unclear.1 When asked if MS was more prevalent amongst men or women, almost half (45%) of participants responded that MS affects men and women equally. In fact, MS is at least two to three times more common in women than in men. Nine thousand people and their family members live with Multiple Sclerosis across Ireland. Although MS is a progressive neurological condition that can affect a person’s health, lifestyle and relationships, many people with MS find ways to manage and cope with many of the effects and difficulties. Symptoms vary from person to person and each person is affected by the condition differently. Some of the symptoms of MS are immediately obvious. Reduced mobility is often the most visually apparent. Other symptoms such as fatigue, changes in sensation, memory and concentration problems are often ‘invisible’ symptoms and can be difficult to explain to others. Ava Battles, Chief Executive of MS Ireland said, “While many people are aware of MS and the more visible, tangible symptoms that it can cause, the effects of MS can vary greatly from person to person and can often be invisible to those around them. Through this research and our World MS Day activity we hope to raise awareness around the less visible aspects of MS and how it can impact on the day to day life of a person living with the condition.” Loretto Callaghan, General Manager and Country President, Novartis Ireland commented, “We are delighted to support MS Ireland on World MS Day and to bring the results of this research study to the general public. It is so important that the community of people living with MS in Ireland feel that their condition is properly understood by their peers and this is something that can only happen by spreading awareness through initiatives such as World MS Day.” Levels of awareness around the more visible symptoms of MS among the public are relatively high with almost 20% of those surveyed listing muscle degeneration, and 17% naming loss of mobility.1 Only 8% of people identified fatigue as a key symptom despite almost 90% of people living with MS reporting fatigue as a consequence of their condition.1, Commenting on the launch of the research findings, Professor Orla Hardiman, Consultant Neurologist at Beaumont Hospital, Professor of Neurology and Head of the Academic Unit of Neurology in Trinity College Dublin and the HSE National Clinical Lead for Neurology said, “The research findings highlight how prevalent MS is in our society today with nearly 40% of the population being impacted either directly or indirectly by the condition. It’s important that as a community we educate ourselves on the symptoms that affect the day to day lives of people living with MS, especially those that are not immediately apparent and less visible.” Sharon Henvey, World MS Day spokesperson said, “As someone living with Multiple Sclerosis for the past 10 years, World MS Day is a day that means so much to me and my family. It’s a day that shines a spotlight on the 9,000 people in Ireland living with MS and what life is like for us. The theme for this year’s campaign is visibility which I think is crucially important, as some of the symptoms I experience are unseen. I do at times feel that my MS is invisible which can be hard to explain to friends and family, so hopefully, the campaign can create awareness of these unseen symptoms” Research commissioned by MS Ireland and Novartis and completed by IPSOS/MRBI, April 2019.  Research commissioned by MS Ireland and Novartis and completed by IPSOS/MRBI, April 2019.  MS Ireland website Available here  Societal Cost of Multiple Sclerosis in Ireland 2015 [online]. Available here
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