MINDFREEDOM ANNUAL REPORT 2014.

The year 2014 saw MindFreedom Ireland (MFIrl) commence its second decade of existence and with the help of friends and supporters throughout the country and abroad, continue its work in the areas of peer support, opposition to electroshock, public education and the pursuit of human rights.

PEER SUPPORT. The Stand By Me support group continued to meet every Wednesday afternoon in Costa in Douglas. People drop in and drop out, depending on individual circumstances but there is always a steadfast core group every week.

Most welcome foreign visitors during the year were survivor activists Joe Kelly from London and Laura Delano from Boston. Hospital visits, over-the-phone support and personal mutual support were also provided while the With a Little Help From My Friends music group recommenced their Friday morning meetings, culminating in the by now traditional performance for the occupational therapy students in University College Cork School of Nursing, thanks to the efforts of Karen McNulty.

ELECTROSHOCK AND HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN. Our 6th annual public protest against electroshock took place in Cork in May and, in addition to our local support, we were delighted to welcome activists Barbara Barrett from Dublin, Fiona Walsh and Bernie Bushe from Tallaght Trialogue, Jackie Gorman from Renew in Athlone and Noreen Murphy from Bantry. Testimonies were read by shock recipients as were messages of solidarity from Don Weitz, Helene Duboise and Sue Wittenburg in Canada. Publicity for the event was generated in The Cork Independent, The Journal as well as by interviews with P.J. Coogan on Cork 96’s Opinion Line and Neil Prendeville on Cork’s Red FM. MFIrl also joined forces with Fiona Walsh of FLAC in making a submission to TheUnited Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights while we also continued to lobby for the inclusion of full human rights in the government’s proposed Capacity Legislation especially in the area of full legal recognition of Advanced Care Directives without exception. Again with the help of Fiona Walsh, MFIrl was delighted to have the opportunity of nominating David Oaks, founder and former Director of MindFreedom International for The Vaclav Havel Human Rights Award sponsored by The Council for Europe in Strasbourg.

MEDIA. In addition to the above mentioned publicity surrounding our electroshock protest, MFIrl was also featured in interviews on Waterford WLR radio and Kildare FM. Irish Times Chief Reporter Carl O’Brien made reference to MFIrl in a front page report in June in the aftermath of the Tuam mothers and babies story. Asylum magazine, the magazine for democratic psychiatry, devoted its entire autumn issue to the subject of electroshock and, thanks to Editor Phil Virden and Cherl Prax of Speak Out Against Psychiatry, contained an article by Mary Maddock as well as a front cover photograph of Bernie Bushe and Jackie Gorman along with Mary taken at our May protest. Footage of our protest is also available on You Tube thanks to the efforts of Jerry O’Mullane. Jerry along with his assistants Singh, Ian and Sarah also conducted a series of interviews with MFIrl members which, in addition to further archival material edited by Jerry, went into the making of the 35 minute long

MINDFREEDOM IRELAND DOCUMENTARY which was launched in The Bishopstown Bar in June by Laura Delano of Mad in America. Special thanks is due to Colette Ni Dhuinneacha for seeing to all the arrangements on the night as well as organising a fund-raising raffle. Also in attendance on the night was journalist Aaron Vallely who wrote a follow-up article ‘Irish Psychiatry and Consent’ which appeared in The Huffington Post and who further interviewed a number of MFIrl members which Aaron intends to feature in an upcoming radio documentary. Again thanks to Fiona, Bernie, Gavin and Barbara who travelled from Dublin and long time MFIrl member and activist Richard Patterson who travelled from Leitrim. Laura was en route to the INTAR conference in Liverpool and busy woman that she is, later organised the very successful Mad in America 4 day Film Festival in Boston in October which also featured MFIrl supporter and friend Dylan Tighe in a performance of his RECORD which fuses Dylan’s experience through live music,video and the spoken word.

Further media events were an Evening Echo feature in August and a filmed interview with Luke Montague which formed part of The Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry documentary and launch in The House of Lords in April (www.cepuk.org) On social media the MFIrl , Stop the Forceful Use of Electroshock, Stand by Me and Sing itfrom the Mountains Facebook pages were constantly updated and thanks to Gordon Lucas, our website received a make-over which made it far more user-friendly.

CONTACTS – HOME AND ABROAD. Close and supportive contact was maintained with a number of like-minded organisations and individuals throughout the year. At home these included Jackie Gorman who does great work with Renew in Athlone, activist and blogger Leonie Fennel and Shane’s Page, Maria Bradshaw and CASPAR and The Critical Voices Network Ireland which featured workshops from debutant Deirdre Gibbons, Mary Maddock and Greg White at their wonderful 2 day November conference. Close connections were also maintained with Limerick psychotherapist Dr. Terry Lynch and his wife Marion and we will be delighted to do all we can to support the publication of his new book ‘Depression Delusion: The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance’ in 2015 including hopefully, a launch in Cork.

Abroad, MFIrl continued our affiliation with MindFredeedom International under its new Director Celia Browne while our thoughts will always be with David Oaks in the new challenges he faces. Contact was also established with Tim Nolan and his Angels of Mercy group in Minnesota, Cherl Prax of SOAP in London as well as the already mentioned Don Weitz and the Campaign Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) inToronto. We will also be working with Dr.Bonnie Burstow of CAPA in helping to launch and promote her new book ‘Psychiatry and the Business of Madness’ nextJune. In October MFIrl members including Patrice Campion from Newry met in Maynooth for a lecture by Dr.Peter Gotzsche, Director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre and author of the award winning book ‘Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How big pharma has corrupted health care’.
The year concluded with a very enjoyable Christmas party organised by Helena and Colette and special thanks is due to Miriam for adding to the Christmas spirit and Susan for entertaining us all with an array of carols and Christmas songs.

CONCLUSION. Looking back on the year, MFIrl can be proud of its achievements.
Operating on a shoestring thanks to the odd raffle and occasional donation, we will endeavour to continue our work as we face into 2015. Of special significance to MFIrl in the light of recent tragedies in Ireland will be to focus attention on the need for a government enquiry into the issue of adverse and extremely harmful dangers for some people of the use of psychotropic drugs and for this fact to be openly admitted at coroners’ inquests.

As always, we especially remember at this time of year our deceased founder member Helena King, her friend and founder of Mad Pride Ireland John McCarthy and the late Cathy Hayes from Dublin, a staunch supporter over the years. On a happier note, we would like to send our congratulations to Jim Gottstein of PsychRights and Nancy Rubenstein Delgiudice on their recent marriage.

Jim Maddock,
31st December, 2014.

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.

 

Jim Maddock,

31st December, 2013.

                                                                                MINDFREEDOM IRELAND 2012 ANNUAL REPORT.

 

Two thousand and twelve was another busy year for MindFreedom Ireland (MFIrl).  From our base in Cork we continued our work on a number of fronts, thanks to the efforts and dedication of our core group, all of whom voluntarily contribute with their time and support.

MEDIA.  Two of our members featured on national television programmes.  In April Colette Ni Dhuinneacha appeared on TV3's Morning Show where she gave an excellent performance in a head to head debate with psychiatrist Dr Anne Jeffers of the Irish College of Psychiatry on the issue of electroshock.  The same issue was again featured on RTE's Prime Time programme in July when Mary Maddock argued strongly for its abolition. MFIrl members and supporters also participated in The Niall Boylan Show on Classic 4FM when psychiatry in general and drugs in particular were discussed.

In the printed media, MFIrl engaged with Carl O'Brien of The Irish Times for his excellent 3 part series on Drugs which apppeaared in April and again in December when Miriam O'Shea was featured in an article critical of existing mental health services. Anne Keohane and Mary Maddock also had letters published in The Irish Times.  MFIrl was again mentioned in an article in the online publication The Journal on the subject of electroshock and yet again in a prominent article by Harry Leech on the same subject in The Sunday Times while we had an article on the history of critical psychiatry in Ireland published on the Mad in America website blog.  Completing our anti shock campaign was a further MFIrl article which appeared in Asylum magazine.  We also lead three pages on Facebook - Stop the Forceful Use of Electroshock, Sing it from the Mountains and MindFreedom Ireland. While the departure of sympathetic journalist Jennifer Hough from The Irish Examiner left a void, MFIrl continued to receive coverage in the local press.

 EVENTS  This was particularly so during the advance publicity for the Cork launch of Dr. Terry Lynch's new book Selfhood which we organised in January, an event which attracted a sizable audience and which was also attended by Kathleen LynchTD, Minister responsible for Mental Health.  MFIrl was also delighted to participate in an innovative and original project that was part of the Cork Midsummer Arts Festival in June.  The project was entitled Record, a personal dramatic/musical account of actor/musician Dylan Tighe's encounter with the psychiatric system and which, in addition to the night-time performances, also featured a series of public lunch-time debates - Samples -, one of which was exclusively devoted to a discussion with five members of MFIrl, a discussion which was repeated when the play had another run at the Dublin Theatre Festival in October.

In June, MFIrl organised a Label Rip as its contribution to the Occupy Psychiatry Day when similar protests took place worldwide.  Finally, MFIrl members were out in force during the two day Critical Voices Network Ireland (CVNI) conference 'Critical Perspectives and Creative Responses to Experiences of Trauma and Distress' in UCC in November to participate in the many excellent workshops and listen to a hard-hitting keynote presentation entitled Time for Change - Bury Forced Psychiatry Not People' from MFIrl activist Richard Patterson.  MFIrl is affiliated to the CVNI and attended many of the CVNI (South) meetings in the course of the year.

 ACTIVITIES AND MUTUAL SUPPORT.  The 'Stand by Me' support group continued to meet every Wednesday in Costa Coffee shop in Douglas.  While numbers fluctuated, there was always a core group which continued to offer company, support, advice and information.  MFIrl also visited people in hospital in Cork and mobilised peer support for a supporter involuntarily detained in a Dublin hospital. Importantly, we also made a submission on the proposed Mental Capacity Bill presently being prepared by the government. The 'Little Help from my Friends' music group also met on a weekly basis throughout the year, their hours of practice culminating in a public performance for the students of Dr. Karen McNulty's occupational therapy class in UCC in December. (You Tube)  A well attended general meeting in November reviewed our progress since our foundation in 2003 and set out a blueprint for our future.

In August, MFIrl accepted an invitation to meet with representatives of the Irish College of Psychiatry.  In a two hour exchange of views, we laid out our many concerns with psychiatry as presently practiced but, not surprisingly, came away from the meeting with little expectation of any future change.

However, morale boosting contact was maintained with many other old and new friends, many of them active on the CVNI Facebook page, including Bernie Bushe, Patrice Campion, Richard Patterson, Dylan Tighe and Gordon Lucas.  We also worked closely with Cheryl Prax and Speak Out Against Psychiatry (SOAP) and hosted one member of the group Sharon Racklyeft, who was in Cork for the CVNI conference.  Other visitors during the year included Rhonda and Bruce Urdang from MindFreedom Arizona, Tsuyoshi Matsuo from MindFreedom Japan, Jackie Proctor from Scotland and Louisa Putnam and Kermit Cole who were in Cork as part of a film project commissioned by Mad in America.

In another encouraging step, Mary Maddock was invited by Rick Deady of the UCC School of Psychiatric Nursing to become in Rick's words a "part of the curriculum presentation in an inclusive rather than tokenistic manner."  The module 'Recovery: Theory, Concepts and Principles' is to continue for the next four years.

Finally, in December MFIrl members established a local 'Selfhood' discussion group with plans for regular meetings in 2013 and the year concluded with a very enjoyable and well attended Christmas lunch in Blarney.

DEPARTED FRIENDS.  The year saw the untimely passing of John McCarthy who had been a very active member of MFIrl over the years before concentrating his efforts on building up Mad Pride.  We had also established contact with Dr. Thomas Szasz whose death in New York in September we deeply mourn and we would like to extend our sympathy to Louisa Putnam on the passing of her son Luke in September. May they all rest in peace.

CONCLUSION.  The year concluded with the news of a serious accident involving David Oaks, Director of MindFreedom International.  As we write, the latest reports of his condition are encouraging and we extend our united wishes for a speedy recovery.  David has been a tireless and inspiring activist for over 30 years and as MFIrl begins its 10th year in existence in 2013, we draw on his spirit to continue to sustain us.  We hope it will be evident in our newly revamped website mindfreedomireland.com which should be up and running in January and for which we express our appreciation to Gordon and Noreen.  Our many thanks again to all our other members and supporters in Cork, throughout Ireland and internationally.

 

Jim Maddock,

December 31st, 2012.

 

 

                                                                            MINDFREEDOM IRELAND 2009 ANNUAL REPORT.

 

As 2009 draws to a close, MFIrl can look back on its performance during the year and report significant progress on a number of fronts.

LOBBYING.  MfIrl maintained its established links with Amnesty Ireland  and supported its ongoing campaign against humann rights abuses.  MFIrl also lent its support to the successful effort to stop the forced shocking of Ray Sandford as well as supporting other efforts on behalf of John Hunt (Ireland), Anthony Milne (South Africa) and Abdul Ahmed (Denmark).  In addition, MFIrl lobbied Irish politicians on the shortcomings of the Irish psychiatric system and was present in the Irish Senate for the debate on the bill to abolish forced electro-shock.  Support and advice was also offered to many people who contacted us through our website and Martin Hynes and Dorothee Krien made valuable advocacy contributions in a number of Tribunal cases.

MEDIA CAMPAIGN.  MFIrl was represented by Nuria O'Mahony on 'Prime Time' the flagship RTE current affairs programme which was dealing with the issue of the adverse effects of SSRIs.  Further media attention was secured by a number of articles in The Irish Times and Sunday Times, two large circulation national newspapers while the voice of MFIrl was also heard in the month long 'ECT Without Consent' debate in the influential 'Letters to the Editor' page of the Irish Tomes.  Facebook causes such as 'Stop Forced Electroshock', 'The Incarceration of John' and 'Support MindFreedom Ireland' were set up as well as a number of videos being added to You Tube.

EVENTS.  Lydia Walsh-Yildirim and Mary Maddock made a poetry and music presentation to the National Service Users Executive Conference in Cork as well as other members mounting a poster exhibition and having an information stand.  In June, MFIrl in solidarity with 'We the People' held a memorial cermony to mark the anniversary of the death of Esmin Greene who died from psychiatric neglect in Kings County Hospital, New York in 2007.

Inspired by Grainne HUmphries and in conjunction with Asylum Associates, MFIrl helped with the initial organising arrangements for the UCC Recovery Conference which was subsequently 'recovered' by Harry Gibjels and Lydia Sapouna from UCC when it seemed that, because of circumstances, it might not have come to pass. The two day conference 'Making Thriving a Reality; Towards and Beyond Mental Health Recovery' brought together a wide range of progressive thinking and included workshop presentations from Greg White and Mary Maddock.

MFIrl was also represented by Martin Hynes at an ENUSP conference in Brussells in March while in June, Dorothee Krien organised a visit by Dr.Betty Maritini who spoke at a public meeting on the issue of aspartame and the role it plays in adverse health effects.  With the help of Tony Christie, Colette Ni Dhuinneacha organised Labyrinth meetings ai the Laverna Centre, Cork.  They helped members to relax and unite with mutual support and solidarity.

Our third annual anti-shock protest took place in May with Martin Hynes, Kevin Foley, Colette Ni Dhuinneacha and Mary Maddock all giving public testimony to their negative experiences at a rally which was also addressed by disability campaigner and independent MEP Kathy Sinnott.  Many members were also present in Fitzgerald Park for the second Mad Pride Festival, organised by John McCarthy.

SUPPORT GROUP  One of our most notable achievements in the year was the setting up of our Wednesday support group 'Stand By Me'.  Meeting in the warm, everyday surrounds of Costa's Coffee Shop in Douglas, the group has a strong solid core of regular attenders and others who drop in from time to time.  Lively discussion, information exchange and fun are the main ingredients of the by now well established 'diary date'.  We also appreciate the support of The Society of Friends who offered the use of their Meeting Hall for our annual Christmas party.

CONNECTIONS  MindFreedom was once known as Support Coalition International and the philosophy of international as well as national mutual support is central too to the philosophy of MFIrl.  Already existing links with our sisters and brothers such as David oaks, Don Weitz (CAPA), Jim Gottstein (PsychRights), Patients Advocacy (New Zealand), ENUSP and WNUSP were maintained and strengthened.  In addition, we made new and valued connections with Barbara, Alison, Marion and Mkke from Elemental UK, Barney from MF Lancaster, Richard from NSUE Sligo and Debra from ENUSP.

 

CONCLUSION  MFIrl continues to thrive and its name and logo are gaining more and more national currency.  We are only as strong though as our committed and hardworking members, all with valuable contributions to make, which will be needed for the challenges ahead.  Our agenda for the future continues as before - to educate the public, to speak out against human rights abuse, to promote effective and humane alternatives and to encourage the formation of affiliate branches.

Jim Maddock,

31st Decenmber, 2009.

 

 

                                                                               MINDFREEDOM IRELAND ANNUAL REPORT 2008.

INTRODUCTION.  Now in its fifth year of existence, MFIrl continued its work as a vibrant, democratic organisation independent of government or pharmaceutical industry funding, striving towards its goal of a non-violent revolution in the 'mental health' system and the protection of the human rights of people caught up in that system.

MESSAGE THROUGH THE MEDIA.  The greatest asset to our campaign was the establishment of our new website - mindfreedomireland.com.  The site is updated on a regular basis and contains valuable information on events and news as well as providing vital links to other allied and useful sites.  Our appreciationn and gratitude go to Aymen Hafez, a student of Douglas Community School Cork for his help in establishing the site and also to Omar Yildirim for putting up our videos on You Tube.

MFIrl continued its campaign with letters to the national newspapers and a prominent anti-shock feature in the Sunday Independent, Ireland's biggest circulation Sunday newspaper.  An anthology of new poems by Lydia Walsh-Yildirim was accepted by The Mental Health Commission on the occasion of the World Mental Health Day Lecture in Dublin.  In addition, Mary Maddock wrote a number of new songs, one of which - Voices -  was adopted by the Hearing Voices Network as their anthem.  The book Soul Survivor was also reprinted and is now available in The Mad Market and from our website.

CONFERENCES.  MFIrl was represented at quite a number of conferences during the year.  These included the CROW/Altering Images Conference in University College, Cork which this year had rhe theme of 'Community, Recovery, Ownership, Wellbeing'.  Lydia, Mel O'Dea and Mary all delivered powerful presentations (See You Tube) as well as conducting, with the help of Greg White, a moving candlelight cermony for deperted founder-member Helena King accompanied by Alex singing the song 'Voices'.  The whole presentation was so well received that a request has been made for it to be repeated at the National Service Users inaugural conference which will be held in Cork on January 24th, 2009.

MFIrl was also represented at the Hearing Voices, CASA and Terence McLoughlin Memorial Conference held in Manchester in September and again at the Oldham Users' Conference.  As part of a series of events to mark World Mental Health Day in October, MFIrl had an information stand at the West Cork CROW/Altering Images 'Into the Light' conference organised by Noel Palmer and also at the WMD Festival organised by Pathways to Freedom, a committee inclusive of all service-user organisations in Cork city where we distributed relevant literature including our newly printed MFIrl information leaflet.

OTHER EVENTS.  In March Nuria O'Mahony spoke at the launch of the book 'Power, Politics and Pharmaceuticals' edited by Orla O'Donovan and Kathy Glavis-Grantham in UCC.  Also in the spring, Colette Ni Dhuinneachain represented MFIrl at the inaugural meeting of the National Service Users' Executive.  Our second annual anti-shock protest took place outside the GPO in Cork in May on a beautiful day compared to the deluge of 2007.  Approximately 12 MFIrl members distributed facts on electro-shock and some delivered public speeches on their personal experiences.  In a generally bad summer weather-wise,  MFIrl attended John McCarthy's Mad Pride Festival in Fitzgerald Park which fortunately was bathed in sunshine on the day.  The festival received nation-wide tv coverage.  Another 'fun' event was the Cork Women's Mini-Marathon in which a number or real and 'disguised' female MFIrl members participated to raise badly needed funds.

In June, MFIrl had an information stand at the CCHR Exhibition in the City Hall and nine members - Lydia, Colette, Mel, Maria, Dorothy, Mary, Kevin, Martin and Brendan - delivered excellent testimonies under the banner of Survivors Speak Out.  MFIrl also organised a vigil in memory of Esmin Elizabeth Green, the woman who was left to die on the floor of a waiting room in Kings County Hospital, New York in June.  In July, MFIrl held a peaceful protest outside the gates of the Irish parliament, the Dail and later attended the debate in the Senate in support of Dr. Michael Corry's sponsored Private Members Bill to amend the 2001 Mental Health Act to ban enforced electro-shock. 

In August MFIrl members were in Dublin again, all at their own expense, to meet with Amnesty Ireland and provide them with our perspective on the human rights aspect of their current mental health campaign.  MFIrl was again represented at another consultative meeting organised by Amnesty in October, consultations which are still ongoing.

On an international level, contact was maintained with a number of sister groups including Anna de Jonge and Patients' Rights Advocacy in New Zealand, Mary Nettle and Peter Lehman and ENUSP in Europe, Tina Minkowitz and WNUSP in New York, Moosa Salie and WNUSP in South Africa (MFIrl was present for the signing of The Cape Town Declaration calling for respect for the human rights of people with psycho/social difficulties), Jim Gottstein and Psychrights in Alaska, Don Weitz and CAPA in Toronto, Sue Clarke and ICBE (International Campaign to Ban Electro-shock) in Ottawa, Helene Grandbois, anti-shock campaigner in Quebec and of course, David Oaks and MindFreedom in USA. In December, MFIrl was active in supporting the campaign to highligh the forced electro-shocking of Ray Sandford in Minnesota.   Our final event was a Christmas drinks and get-together fun night at a city hotel.

CONCLUSION.  All in all, the members of MFIrl can be proud of what they achieved during the year.  From a small base we have been fortunate to attract some new, young and active people who have raised our overall morale.  The MFIrl name and logo is gaining increasing currency and recognition on the national stage where, I think it is fair to say, we are punching above our weight.  The new year however, will still confront us with many challenges.  A priority will be to continue to press for changes in The Mental Health Act in relation to electro-shock.  We will also continue to lobby the Irish government to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Disabled.  We will continue to further educate the public and speak out on the human rights abuses in the system.  We aim to promote effective and humane alternatives, empower our members, existing and new, to be 'mad proud' and encourage the formation of affiliate branches in other countries in Europe.

Beannacht De ar an obair!

Jim Maddock,

31st December, 2008.

 

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