As a mother, since her son Aaron was born 11 years ago with Down syndrome, Mary has fought hard every minute of the day to ensure that Aaron reaches his full potential. As a young mum with a newborn baby with disabilities she experienced first hand the lack of services and facilities from medical-card issues, provision of language therapists and special needs assistants to help children get the best start in life.
In 2013, the mother of three was appointed to our Board and was appointed President of Down Syndrome Ireland. A Garda Sergeant by trade, Mary was pivotal around ensuring that all children with Down syndrome had access to resource hours and assistance in mainstream school, ending a 10 year discrimination against these children integrating into mainstream education.
Since then, Mary has continued to campaign tirelessly to improve the lives of children and adults with Down syndrome and their families.
Changing the perception of how people with Down syndrome are seen and viewed in society is an issue close to Mary’s heart. She was heavily involved in the ‘Here I Am’ exhibition which travelled around Ireland in 2016 highlighting the abilities of people with Down syndrome.
Her tireless work as a volunteer with Down Syndrome Ireland saw her being honoured with the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) Excellence Award in front of 200 of her peers at the Association’s annual conference in 2016. Last year, Mary was also honoured at the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year, and was a runner up in the Social Entrepreneur of the Year category.
While Mary’s many achievements will echo across the organisation, one of her enduring legacies will always be her pivotal role in introducing our Purple Run, which is our national celebration of World Down Syndrome Day. The hugely popular now annual event now sees families travel from across the country to turn the Phoenix Park Purple – raising awareness about the abilities of people with Down syndrome and encouraging people to ‘Run With Us, Not For Us’.
We thank you Mary from all of us here in Down Syndrome Ireland for all of your hard work, dedication and commitment you have shown throughout your six years as President. We know you will continue to advocate for the rights of children and adults with Down syndrome and we will continue to work with you and all of our members to continue your work.