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.
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.
Greystone's Scribblers was established in 2009 by MS Ireland's East-Wicklow branch. They recently published their inaugural publication of poetry and short stories, First Flight. This is an inspirational book of well-honed stories that amuse, entertain and sometimes pull at the heart strings. This initiative was facilitated by Carol Boland with financial assistance from the Wicklow County Arts Office and we cannot thank them enough for their support. World MS Day brings the global MS Community together to share stories and raise awareness for everyone affected by MS. Greystone's Scribblers launched First Flight on this day, May 30th, with guest speaker Ava Battles saying "I have read this book cover to cover and some of the stories pulled at the heart strings, while others you simply had to laugh at them. I highly recommend this book to everyone to read". 100% of the profits will go the National MS Care Centre in Bushy Park. It is available to buy in Dubray Books in Bray, Supervalu, Sam McCauleys chemist and the Village Bookshop in Greystones, the Wicklow Bookshop in Wicklow Town, and also from boland-press.ie. You can also buy it online here or call the National office or the MS Care Centre for your copy.
Sunday 17th is Father’s Day and this week Keith Byrne describes the joys of being a Dad. Read on for how he’s balancing life tasks so he and his family stay healthy and how being open to challenges helps him build resilience while living with MS. Stress can be the catalyst for the onset of many illnesses. Coping with a full-time job, a young baby and a chronic illness all at once can certainly be described as stressful. This is never easy. Particularly when they can all be so demanding at the same time. I'm learning to take a different perspective so the demands don’t take over. Being a father to a 17-month-old can often mean restless nights, followed by a long day in the office then home to spend some (brief but) quality time with my son before his bedtime. Only to do it all over again tomorrow. It sounds tough and I suppose at times it is. At least if you apply effort into your work you might get the occasional thanks. Not so with a baby. Bringing things into perspective, the morning and evening times when I get to hang out with Oliver and see him showing off what he's learned is beyond comparison. His latest feat comes when asked “What does the lion say?” and he answers with a big "ROAR!". I couldn't be prouder! I find routine can be the best way to keep stress levels to a minimum. Time is such a precious commodity that it needs to be used wisely. I have yet to master this skill but if you have any tips please do share in the comments section below. Regimented tasks in our house, such as the weekly shop or cleaning floors each night before bed, are of given almost critical importance. And then stress levels rise when routine is broken. Actually, it's helpful just to take a step back, realise that it's not the end of the world and take another view. Once he's happy and healthy, that's the priority. I need make sure his Daddy is happy and healthy too. MS can bring with it pain, fatigue, uncertainty and many other symptoms. Because of this I've started to challenge myself more. I'm almost putting myself in stressful situations so I can learn to cope with it better. Whereas before diagnosis I would have avoided them at all cost. I plan on running the Dublin Half-Marathon in September and now I've also signed up for the Full Dublin marathon in October. For me staying active and eating healthy are just as important as medication when it comes to tackling MS. Keeping a determined and positive mindset will definitely give me a better chance of staying relapse free. It should also help me sustain a happy and healthy lifestyle. Although with MS this is never guaranteed. Those thankless and sleepless nights, were you just feel you can't do anything right for your child, can be testing. Luckily those nights have been few and far between. But they can have a knock-on effect and leave me exhausted throughout the days that follow. Still, those sleepless nights can lead into playful days. Those rosy red cheeks and teary eyes have led to big white teeth. And those cries of frustration at him not being able to say what he wants led to a voice that now says "Dad"; and that means more to me than thanks ever could. I wish every MS Dad a great Father’s Day and look forward to reading your comments. Keith has set up a charity page for the marathon for anyone who would like to support him as he raises funds for MS Ireland: https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/half-marathon-for-ms Keith also writes a blog where he shares on his life: https://keifib.wordpress.com/
Next week, 11th to the 17th June, is Carer’s Week in Ireland. We’re delighted to have Guest Blogger Gemma Donnelly Cox writing about being a Carer and how she balances life in the ‘here and now’ while also planning for the future. Caring, for me, is about enabling and empowering my husband to live the life of his choosing to his highest potential. Simple, eh? I’m not so sure. Over and over again, I am torn between goals that, at times, conflict. And I’ll bet this happens to every carer; maybe not the same goals but tension nevertheless. Currently, the ones that preoccupy me have to do with timing and with attitude. When I say timing, I mean whether to focus on the present or the future. A whole lot of enabling and empowering is about making the most of every day; doing today’s work today. Right now, I’m typing this blog and Alexis, my husband, who is quadriplegic with progressive MS, is using voice control software to work on his computer. Our son has just left the house to go bouldering at the climbing gym up the road. We are all enjoying the here and now this afternoon. Much of the time, however, I feel as though my focus is planning for the future, leaving little room for the present. So much thought goes into what I know lies ahead and also to planning for the unknowns. What if Alexis’ voice starts to weaken further and he can’t use voice control software? Should he be using eye control now, just in case? But what if his eyesight starts to fail? Worries about the future can rob you of ‘the now’ as you flail around trying to prepare for what might emerge. But if you only stay in ‘the now’, you could very well end up not being ready when one of these MS issues suddenly rears its head. Right up there with timing is attitude. It seems to me that so much of what is joyous in life is about knowing when things are good, celebrating them and being grateful for them. Like right now blogging about how it feels to be a carer. A lot of the time, however, gratitude for the good things can be in tension with putting mental energy into staying vigilant and being ready to advocate. For example, Alexis was recently invited to a dinner with people who know a lot about MS. I was looking forward to going with him and slacked up on my usual advocacy of making his requirements clear to the hosts. I figured that people in the know would get it right. Wrong. The hosts invited a quadriplegic guest seated in a large wheelchair to a venue where the tables were way too low for his chair. The path to the (too small) space at a table- in the middle of a room, full of seated diners- was impossibly narrow. It does not have to be like that folks! It’s hard to be grateful for a nice night out when your husband can’t reach the table and your advocating would have made it different. When I feel I’m getting the balance right managing the tension between timing and attitude, I am far happier and more confident in my Carer role. But before I sign off, I’d like to add one more tension, the one that can arise between caring and self-care. During Carer’s Week, we’re reminded that Superwomen and Supermen stay sharper when they take care of themselves. I was reminded of this back in the autumn when I was away for the weekend by myself (a super duper self-care step) and I came across a young couple in their 20s. The carer in the partnership was a real Wonder Woman. But she was wrecked tired, more tired than I remember being at her age and stage. I had time on my hands and tried to help out. She knew I was up to the job but she simply couldn’t let herself stop. Carers, none of us last forever but if you want to be in for the long haul and really make a difference for your loved one, you’ve got to take care of yourself too. For many carers, I guess that’s the hardest thing. Gemma and Alexis Donnelly live in Dublin with their son Finn and Labrador Retriever, Elmo. In 2016, Alexis joined the Scientific Steering Committee of the Progressive MS Alliance. His carers have supported him to fulfil his role in the Alliance. For more on the Progressive MS Alliance and the exceptional work that it does in pursuit of its aim to understand and overcome some of the biggest barriers to treatment development for progressive MS, see www.progressivemsalliance.org
This week Niamh McCarron shares her experience of having MS and working. Read on for her story of working and striving to stay professionally active and financially secure. As I write this blog post I am on my way to a conference for my day job. This is a good example of how my work and MS life are intertwined. I am often “robbing Peter to pay Paul” timewise, energy-wise and pain-wise. The truth is, most people have to work, there are very few of us who have the resources to pack it all in and retire at 30 or 40. For people with MS, I think most of us plan (and hope) to work for as long as we can. Of course as illness progresses, this choice can be taken away from us. I am writing this post from the fortunate position of still being well enough to work,. I’ve blogged about my MS Fears before. One of the things I am afraid of is having to stop working. I’ve been working in the same company for more than a decade and have built a solid career for myself. I work hard, I enjoy what I do and I am part of a great team of people. Giving up work would have a massive impact on my household financially, but it would also take away my independence and part of my social life too. I’ve had to make some adjustments over the years and I’ve occasionally had to ask work to accommodate me where possible, and reasonable, to do so. Because I was diagnosed while working here, my colleagues have known about my MS as long as I have. I think that has helped. I didn’t have to tell them about it, it just became part of me and my life. I understand why others might feel that they can’t or don’t want to disclose their MS to their workplace. It’s a very personal choice to make. For me it would have been an extra layer of pressure to deal with, so I am glad they all know. Plus I am a blabber mouth and have blogs all over the place. It’s not exactly something I can hide at this stage! In 2016 MS Ireland launched a set of Employment Resources to support people with MS and their employers. I encourage people to have a read through them, particularly if you are considering disclosing your MS at work. There are some great tips from others with MS as well as practical advice on what you can reasonably expect from your employer (and what an employer can do in terms of reasonable accommodation for a member of staff with MS). I also think it’s great to highlight that so many of us are working away in our chosen jobs. MS doesn’t always mean the end of life as we know it. I plan to still be here in the next 10 years, hitting the snooze button for “just 2 more minutes” and dashing about the place trying to juggle work, home and other commitments. I’m determined to try, for as long as possible! Links to Employment resources: https://www.ms-society.ie/blog-articles/2015-launch-of-employment-resources Working With MS - Employment Resource for People With Multiple Sclerosis Working Out MS in the Workplace - A Practical Toolkit for Employers Multiple Sclerosis and Employment - Facts and Figures
‘Making Ireland the Best Place to do Multiple Sclerosis Research’ Report Sets Out Next Steps for the Improved Access to Treatments and Novel Therapeutics To mark World MS Day on 30 May 2018, MS Ireland, supported by Novartis, will launch a new report which is intended to help create an MS research landscape that will put Ireland at the forefront of MS research, innovation and therapeutic application.[i] The report aims to support researchers and provide people with MS and the public with a better understanding of the research process and ongoing research. Some of the recommendations include the establishment of an MS Research Community, improved data and information sharing, greater involvement of people living with MS, potential funding models, and improved dissemination of research findings. The community will help overcome obstacles to research such as gathering samples, establishing a biobank and a patient register. The report defines a number of key asks as follows: Creation of a Facebook Workplace platform where researchers can contact each other, share information and seek opportunities for collaboration; Establishment of a Public Patient Involvement (PPI) network of people with MS who researchers can contact for assistance with designing studies and grant applications; Raising awareness with researchers that MS Ireland is available to partner on funding applications; Seek opportunities with academia and industry to establish an MS registry; Increasing state investment in medical research, including increasing funding for the Medical Research Charities Group and the Health Research Board Joint Funding Scheme for medical research charities; Establishment of an MS patient registry and the development of a national policy framework and infrastructure for the development and maintenance of patient registries; Prioritising implementation of The Health Information & Patient Safety Bill and The Human Tissue Bill. “Given the prevalence of MS here, Ireland should be leading the way in MS research. The report launched today gives us a blueprint of what needs to be done,” says Ava Battles, CEO of MS Ireland. “As a first step, we want to establish an MS research community collective to bolster Ireland’s current research strengths to obtain more funding and improve research visibility. While the top priorities in MS research are currently being addressed, this could be done better if the MS community addressed them as a collective.” Dr Claire McCoy, RCSI, said, “Research offers people living with MS real hope for improvement both in their treatment but also in their quality of life. I am delighted to support MS Ireland in speaking at their public meeting that will help bring people up to date with progress that is being made. The report also lays out a clear pathway that will help to overcome some of the issues that have been faced and I would urge people working in the treatment of MS to get involved as the recommendations are rolled out.” Commenting on the launch of the report, Loretto Callaghan, General Manager & Country President, Novartis Ireland said, “We are committed to working with MS Ireland to help raise awareness on the importance of research. Research plays a major role in progress so understanding the barriers that exist is the first step in devising a plan that will help to overcome these issues in the future. We believe that Ireland can become a leader in MS research and look forward to collaborating further with MS Ireland to deliver the recommendations of the ‘Making Ireland the Best Place to do Multiple Sclerosis Research’ report.” This report was compiled following a meeting with a mix of stakeholders interested in MS research in Ireland, including patients, doctors, scientists and nurses and was facilitated by Novartis Ireland in November 2017.
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