Chairman Address AGM 2021

I know that the 12 months just ended, when the pandemic has continued throughout, has been very challenging for many of the community of people living with and affected by MS that MS Ireland serves.

Infection risk and social distancing has drastically curtailed social events, person to person contacts and fundraising activities.

Medical appointments and treatments have been delayed , people have anxiously waited for Covid vaccinations and people living with MS in particular have worried about compatibility of the vaccines on offer with their existing drug treatment regimes.

For its part, MS Ireland has, I believe, responded very strongly in the past year. 

Our community workers have stayed in touch with people and supported them over the phone and by Zoom.

Our website’s Covid-19 section has been constantly updated with information relevant to people with MS.  Our information line has responded to increasing demand primarily resulting from Covid-19 and MS News has continued to be produced.

Our fundraising and finance teams have worked tirelessly to support local Branches trying to replace lost traditional income sources with online fundraisers.

We’ve continued to advocate strongly at national level , things like the recent Understanding MS @ Work resource for PwMS and their employers, and at local, individual level, through our community work.

We’ve availed of as many of the national supports and grants that have been available to us as we can, and we’ve maintained a healthy financial position.

We’ve provided rehabilitation services online, particularly the spectacularly successful MoveSmart and Active Neuro pilot programmes.

We’ve collected valuable research data, on outcomes from MoveSmart and Active Neuro, and also on how best to describe and quantify our service delivery impacts and outcomes, and right now we’re updating our Societal Cost of MS research.  

We’ve re-opened the Care Centre, we’re gradually increasing its capacity again, and we’ve received excellent HIQA reports on its operation.

We’re actively working on responding to the social, governance and fundraising challenges that our Branches have experienced in recent years, under the Back to the Future banner.

And our team of bloggers has continued to provide their own unique and special insights into living with MS.

The Board of MS Ireland continues to keep the Society focused on its key strategic objectives, under the headings of Service Delivery, Sustainable Finances, Innovation and People and Culture.

Thanks to a suggestion from one of my Board colleagues,  I’m happy to say that our Board meetings now starts with an insight into the real lived experience, and sometimes very difficult struggles, of people living with and affected by MS.  This reminds us of the core reason why MS Ireland exists, and why myself and my colleagues on the Board do what we do on behalf of MS Ireland.

For myself and my fellow Board members, in addition to our statutory and regulatory responsibilities as Directors, our role is to support, to provide guidance ,to challenge our CEO and her management team,  so that all of us involved in the running of  MS Ireland can answer four key question :

Are we delivering on our mission ?

Are we any closer to realising our vision ?

Are we achieving our aims ?

Are we living our values ?

I’d like to think we have been able to answer with many more Yeses' than No’s in the year just gone by.

Before I conclude, I’d like to express my thanks, (and please forgive me for not mentioning anyone by name , in case I’d forget someone) to :

Board members

Board committee members

Council members

Branch officers and committees

MS Ireland staff



Volunteers and supporters, individuals and corporate

And, most importantly to PwMS, your carers, families and friends, for continuing to put your trust in MS Ireland and supporting what we’re trying to achieve on your behalf.  We hope we can continue to earn and deserve your support and trust in the year ahead.

Maurice O'Connor,

Chairperson MS Ireland