Google MindFreedom Ireland (MFIrl) and quite an amount of information appears reflecting the totally voluntary effort and work which our members have put into our collective group over the years since our foundation in 2003.From our base in Cork, Ireland we are glad to be able to report a continuation of that work in 2011.

SUPPORT GROUPOur ‘Stand by Me’ group continued to meet every Wednesday throughout the year in the cosy confines of Costa’s Coffee Shop in Douglas, a suburb of Cork city.With a faithful and constant base of regular members like the two Phils, Anita, Tina, Miriam, Colette, Eileen, Ann, Mary, Dorothee, Martin, Kevin, Tim and Gerry and many others who dropped in and out during the year, ‘Stand by Me’ provided support, practical advice, information and lots of fun and laughter right up to our Christmas party on December 21st.A novel spin-off from the group this year was the formation of a Music Ensemble which presently has four participants playing violin, piano and tin whistle and which hopefully will grow next year.MFIrl also responded to numerous inquiries received by phone and via our website and provided ‘on the ground’ support at hospital level in many instances.In the spirit of MindFreedom International, MFIrl enjoyed a mutually supportive relationship with Grainne Humphrys of Elemental Ireland and her ‘Free John Hunt’ campaign and Nuria O’Mahony who kindly donated her extensive library for use by our members prior to her departure to Australia.MFIrl enjoys a similar relationship with Dr. Terry Lynch and early in 2012 plans to have a Cork launch of his recently published book ‘Selfhood’.

CONFERENCESThe highlight of 2011 was undoubtedly our first independent conference which we held in the Carrigaline Court Hotel on February 28th.Entitled ‘Epidemic Exposed – Are Magic Bullets an Illusion?’ and chaired by MFIrl stalwartMartin Hynes, the panel of speakers featured Kathy Synott, Mary Maddock, Ted Chabasinski, Dr. Terry Lynch and Robert Whittaker and attracted an audience of over 200.Extracts from the night can be seen on our website.MFIrl had collaborated with the newly formed Critical Voices Network Ireland (CVNI) in bringing Robert Whittaker to Ireland.CVNI has as its purpose the creation of “a network of people interested in considering and devoloping responses to human distress which are creative, enabling, respectful and firmly grounded in human rights.”MFIrl are happy to be affiliated with CVNI and participated in their two day November conference in UCC entitled ‘Medicating Human Distress: Concerns, Critiques and Solutions’ where a number of our members presented workshops.MFI member Richard Patterson was a keynote speaker at another UCC conference in September entitled ‘Mad Medicine – Do Conflicts of Interest Drive you Crazy?’ while MFI delegates Colette and Mary attended the ENUSP conference in Brussels in May.

MEDIAIn the run-upto and aftermath of our Carrigaline Conference, MFIrl received a high degree of mainstream media attention from the Irish Examiner, Irish Times, Evening Echo, Cork Independent, Cork News, The Carrigdoun and Cork’s 96FM.Further coverage of our activities appeared in the Irish Independent and Sunday World.We also have two ‘causes’ – Support MFIrl and Stop Forceful Electro-convulsive ‘therapy’ – on Facebook along with our regularly updated website. MFIrl members Patrice Campion, Ann Keohane and Richard Patterson are all regular contributors to the CVNI Facebook page and worth a look too is Richard’s MFIrl float at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Carrick-on-Shannon available on You Tube.Specifically, MFIrl would like to compliment reporter Jennifer Hough of the Irish Examiner for her excellent articles throughout the year.RTE Radio also interviewed four of our members as part of their week long series of programmes to mark World Mental Health Day in October.

OTHER EVENTSThanks to the good offices of Greg White, MFIrl was granted a stand at the three-day Mind, Body and Spirit Festival in the City Hall in March. MFIrl supported the Delete 59b campaign against electro-shock and held our 5th annual ECT public protest on the Grand Parade, Corkin May.In June, members attended John McCarthy’s Mad Pride Festival in Fitzgerald’s Park.In the autumn, MFIrl made submissions for proposed government changes to current capacity legislation and the revision of the current 2001 Mental Health Act and in November, participated in Mental Health Reform’s public consultation process.

DR AINE TUBRIDY It was with great sadness that MFIrl learned of the untimely death of Dr. Aine Tubridy last April.Partner of the late Dr. Michael Corry and co-author of many books with him, Aine had delivered a keynote speech in his memory at the 2010 UCC conference.MFIrl had forged strong links with Dr. Corry since 2004 and was present in Dublin for Aine’s funeral service.

CONNECTIONSMFIrl was honored to host vetern campaigner Ted Chabasinski in Cork in February and to meet Will Hall of The Freedom Center.In July we enjoyed a visit by Frank Blankenship, Jackie and Mary from MindFreedom Florida, in September a visit by Tsuyoshi Matsuo from MindFreedom Japan and again, it was an honour to host writer and publisher and former Chair of ENUSP Peter Lehmann from Germany in November.Of course, MFIrl maintained its strong links with MindFreeom International and David Oaks in America and Don Weitz and CAPA in Toronto along with the World Network of ex-Users and Survivors of Psychiatry and the European Network of ex-Users and Survivors of Psychiatry.

As we head into 2012, the challenges facing not just MFIrl but all who work for humane and rights-based alternatives, continue. We draw strength and encouragement from our sisters and brothers worldwide and the growth of organisations like CVN here in Ireland.This year MindFreedom International celebrated its 25th anniversaryand in 2013, MFIrl will celebrate 10 years of existence.Thankyou and good wishes to all our supporters as we head for that significant milestone.

Jim Maddock,

31st December, 2011.