In his welcoming address, President, Kevin Griffin, shared with us the history of his involvement with the organisation, commencing with the birth of his son, Cathal in 1993, when he first joined the Kerry branch of DSI. Kevin talked about how much things have changed, from those early days when there was so little available for members up to the current date where Cathal is now an employee of Kerry-based international company FEXCO. Kevin has served on the board for 6 years and steps down after overseeing the following great initiatives over the last year:
- The 50th Anniversary. The UpSide Campaign supported by Michael D Higgins (President of Ireland) and Michael Martin (An Taoiseach)
- New strategic roles filled at Head Office; CEO, CFO, and Senior Compliance Officer
- Full Governance review, resulting in new fiscal procedures being implemented and more oversight on governance issues
Kevin talked about DSI’s continued commitment to work to the highest standards as will be seen through our new strategic plan. The plan will be produced following a significant review and a consultation process across the organisation and with our members. In his closing message Kevin’s reminded us that “Together we are stronger” and thanked the Board, the staff, the Branches, the members and volunteers for all of their hard work.
Barry Sheridan, CEO from January 2021, thanked Kevin for all of his hard work, commitment and for the legacy he left. Barry provided updates on the motions passed in 2020 and on the many initiatives we should be celebrating that had been achieved in the last year under difficult circumstances for everyone. This included the adaptions to online programmes, fund raising and partnerships, early years support, educational support and employment support for meaningful roles, the Upside Campaign and the work being undertaken to ensure that DSI meets the requirements to be successful for the next 50 years!
Barry said that he has been delighted to meet the local branches and to see what was being achieved all over the country. He hoped that these initiatives could be shared by other branches so we could build on these foundations and share knowledge and insights throughout the organisation as part of the strategic plan to be implemented in 2022. He acknowledged that moving forward communication and sharing of knowledge would be key to a successful organisation.
It was great to see members from so many branches around the country in attendance, viewing online and joining in the engagement with our Crowe Partners who are leading us through the planning process
Aengus Ó Maoláin, from Crowe, asked us all some probing questions and emphasised the importance of everyone’s engagement in the forthcoming consultations so that the new plan was a plan that involved all members, volunteers, branches, staff and Head Office. Together we will create a vision to be proud of and that is fit for the purpose of supporting our Down Syndrome community over the next 50 years.
Alan Martin was confirmed as the Treasurer for DSI and we are lucky to have his wealth of experience and expertise that has served us so well since his initial appointment earlier in the year.
Bernadette Connolly was ratified as a Connacht Director and Gerard O’ Carroll was ratified as a Munster Director. The Board noted the membership of the National Council as follows:
- Clare – Jean Hanrahan
- Dublin – Margaret Carroll
- Dublin – Bernadette Dixon
- Galway – Nicolette Higgins
- Kildare – Gerard Doran
- Kildare – Julia Ann Croft
- Laois – Myra Drennan
- Louth/ Meath – Paula McDonagh
- Mayo – Paula Dunne
- Tipperary – Anne Griffin
- Wexford – Caroline Nolan
We are delighted to welcome Marian Flanagan as the new President of DSI. She became involved in the organisation 14 years ago after the birth of her youngest daughter when her family became members of DSI. Through DSI Marian and her family have been able to access a supportive network of like-minded parents and families and this community has been hugely important to them. DSI has been there for advice, support, and training through early years, primary and secondary so that she could turn to experts and other families who have experience and knowledge and who have been a guide and support to her and her family.
In 2020, Marian was appointed as a Director of DSI at a time in her life when she has the skills, experience, and energy to fully commit to the organisation and to work for all our members with Down Syndrome.
She has extensive experience of governance and regional development having worked in the arts and cultural sector for many years. As a consultant she worked on numerous organisational reviews and arts plans for local authorities across the country. In 2012, when one daughter started in national school, and the other started in secondary school she went back to “school” and retrained at night to become a Barrister, qualifying in 2015. What motivated her was her shock at finding out that one of her two daughters did not have the same rights as the other and that they were not equal citizens in the eyes of the law.
She is now a practicing barrister working in family law and childcare, education, and disability law. Marian said
“I am honoured to be elected as President of Down Syndrome Ireland and I want to assure you all that I have the commitment and the determination to work with and for DSI and for all of our members, to advocate for every person with Down Syndrome in Ireland to become an equal citizen and to be recognised as an equal citizen of this Republic.
I look forward to building a strong and stable organisation that is sustainable and fit for its ultimate purpose which is to serve all people with Down syndrome in Ireland.”
We look forward to working with Marian during her term of office.
If members have any questions arising from the AGM or the strategic planning process with our partners in Crowe, please do not hesitate to contact us at the National Office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01 5632450 or 01-4266500