2013 was a milestone year for MindFreedom Ireland (MFIrl) as we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our foundation in the house of Helena King in Cork in December 2003. In addition to marking the occasion with a one day conference, our other work in the more routine areas of education, activism and peer support continued apace.
Peer Support. Following a brief interlude and thanks mainly to the sterling support of Susan Mendez, the Stand By Me group resumed its Wednesday meetings in Costas, Douglas with a number of new attendees. Hospital visits and telephone support was provided to a large number of people who had made contact with us.
MEDIA. This contact was facilitated by the launch of our revamped and more user-friendly website thanks to the excellent work of Gordon Lucas and Noreen Kilmartin. Our MFIrl Facebook page was another good forum for news and views. MFIrl also debated the issue of electroshock on TV3’s Morning Show and Newstalk’s Breakfast Show and in the run-up to our anniversary conference, we received coverage in The Irish Times, The Cork News and a full page article entitled ‘We Stand for Informed Choice’ in The Evening Echo. Also in The Evening Echo, AoifeO’Leary was the subject of a major interview on the occasion of the launch by Gerry Buttimer TD of her Basement Resource Centre booklet. German author and publisher Peter Lehmann included Mary Maddock's story in his landmark work 'Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs' which has been translated into a number of languages while Mary also wrote an afterword for author Declan Henry's new book 'Why Bi-polar' which was launched in London in June. EVENTS & ACTIVITIES. Mary Maddock was invited to address The Empathic Therapy Conference organised by Dr.Peter Breggin and his wife Ginger in Syracuse, New York in April where further strong bonds were forged with brother and sister activists from around the world. At home, MFIrl linked up with Sandra Higgins of The Irish Compassion Foundation at her Creatively Maladjusted talk in Temple Bar in July and with Leonie Fennell and Maria Bradshaw’s (CASPER) conference on suicide in Wicklow in September. Members of MFIrl including Colette Ni Dhuinneacha and Aoife O’Leary were also invited to address psychiatric nursing students in University College Cork in October, thanks to the efforts of Rick Deady of the School of Nursing while the Little Help From My Friends group spoke to and performed for the occupational therapy students in UCC, again thanks to the efforts of Karen McNulty. Mary Maddock also addressed an audience at the Rehab premises in Cork while in response to an invitation from Dr. Bryan McElroy, she also spoke to an audience of trainee GPs in Tralee. Literally flying the banner for MFIrl, Richard Patterson was a big hit at the St.Patrick’s Day parade in Carrick-on-Shannon and Richard’s creative posters and art work along with his insightful comments and blogs throughout the year continued to ‘tell it like it is’. Members of MFIrl including Greg White who held a workshop, were also in attendance at the two day Critical Voices Network Ireland Conference in UCC in November and we value our affiliation with its work and the website expertise of Patrice Campion and Gordon Lucas.
ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE. Undoubtedly the highlight of the year was our 10th Anniversary Conference held in Cork in September. Our gratitude goes to all our speakers – Patrice Campion, Leonie Fennell, Niamh and Sinead Nolan, Rose Allen, Alison Whitfield, Gordon Lucas, Greg White and Drs Bob Johnson and Terry Lynch who freely gave their time and also to Colette, Aoife, Anita, Susan, Phil, Mary, Maria and Mary and Jim for their contributions to the success of the day. The keynote addresses can be found on our website – www.mindfreedomireland.com – and again we would like to thank Jerry and Singh for their work in recording the event on film. With an attendance of over 100, including many stalwart supporters from Dublin and around the country, the day also featured messages of solidarity from overseas (including one from Jim Gottstein of PsychRights who wrote “MindFreedom Ireland has been doing terrific advocacy, maybe the most effective anywhere in the world that I know of. I am going to talk about your event during my NARPA talk on Friday about using social media”) music, song and dance in keeping with the celebratory nature of the day along with the more serious topics covered by our speakers. A poster exhibition featuring the history of MFIrl and our work over the past 10 years was also on display. Earlier in the year Colette NI Dhuinneacha had organised a night of celebration in Bishopstown to further mark our 10th year in existence.
FINANCE. A sponsored Christmas swim by Miriam O’Shea along with a number of small donations enabled us to cover our expenses for our anniversary conference. These were mostly in the areas of hiring the hotel and filming and were further met by donations taken at the door. MFIrl operates on a shoestring and is proud to thus maintain our total independence from vested interests.
CONCLUSION. Our anniversary year ended with our annual Christmas dinner in Blarney which concluded our activities for the year. Once again we would like to thank everybody for their work and support throughout the year, especially Terry Lynch and Greg White, two staunch and inspirational anchors over not just the year but the decade. We send our good wishes to David Oaks and will continue to be inspired by his Trojan work of the last 30 years and more. We also send our best wishes to his successor Celia Browne and look forward to collaborating with her and everyone in MindFreedom International as we commence our own second decade.
31st December, 2013.