Mr. John McCarthy Speech

 Founder; Mad Pride Ireland.

 To the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership Conference

Killarney, Ireland May 19th 2010



Good afternoon and welcome to you all from Mad Pride Ireland.


My name is John McCarthy I am the founder of Mad Pride Ireland I am very normally mad and I am very proud of that fact, and I have discovered the great dignity of making that simple statement without fear.


The purpose of mad pride is simple and straightforward and so terribly complicated. It is to dismantle the fear and ignorance that surrounds the normality of madness within the wider community.


We particularly target the media to engage because media will influence politics. It was stated very honestly recently by one of our TD’s Mr Dan Neville FG opposition spokesman on mental health “there are no votes in “mental illness”.


Mad pride Ireland will change that fact.


I would so love to welcome you to the land of saints and scholars but I am forced to welcome you to a land that uses fear of people like me, the normally mad, to support a law, the mental health act of Ireland of 2001, to deny me access to the protection of the common law.


Rather uses that fear and prejudice to allow me a citizen of this country to be locked up potentially for the whole of my life based on a doctor’s opinion of my behaviour. Section 8 MHA


Mad Pride Ireland will change that fact.


Forced to take any or all medications, based on a doctor’s opinion of my behaviour. Section 57 MHA


Mad pride Ireland will change that fact.


Forced to take ECT against my will, on a doctors opinion.

Section 59b MHA.


Mad Pride Ireland will change that fact, and it will do it by never addressing any of this at its events.


It will do it by showing the general public that it has nothing to fear from us, the normally mad. It will show that the opposite is in fact the truth. That society owes a great debt to the mad community for the gifts we bring, poetry music literature we the emotional ones do that for society and you repay by locking us up.


Fear is the main weapon of the opposing voice to equal rights for the normally mad, tune into that fact in the future, the debate always turns to the extremes to justify the abuse, listen for that in future, it is amazing, fear!!


It gives no pleasure to lay claim to ownership of the following fact, but I am possibly one of the best qualified people in this space to lay claim to the following.


As I stand in front of you now, I have been told I am developing, remember developing, Motor Neuron Disease. I have a real problem with my nerves now.


There is not a neurologist in this country who will state they can attest to that fact with any science to back it up. Neurology will tell me with great truth they cannot treat me because they cannot identify the source of the disease.



I have gladly volunteered to take part in the research, to help science to establish the fact that leads to the test that will lead to a science based treatment.



In truth the same facts apply to Psychiatry they have to date no science to stand over the treatment, yet we have given psychiatry the right in law to use force in its treatment and care of its patients.


Transfer that abusive fact to neurology and imagine the outcry if we abused the human rights of people with motor neuron disease. Based, on opinion, not reinforced by a test, to prove that opinion. Allowed neurology, notwithstanding the fact that it would consider it anathema, to assume the right, to force experimental unproven treatment on its patients simply “ in neurology’s opinion for the patients benefit”.


Psychiatry’s history is riddled by this type of abuse with experimental treatments and has been in the past as it is now honoured by the establishment for taking responsibly for unloved and unwanted members of society.


There is not a pill for every ill. We must work together but the dissenting voice must be given equal access to time and resources to balance the debate.


Why am I so different because of my other “disease”?

One physical, the other emotional, not physical.


We are foolishly looking to the brain to find the mind and spirit.


The real shame here is that the voluntary agencies you will hear this week speaking out on my behalf are the real exponents in spreading this fear that reinforces this law that states that, I and society need force to protect me and them.


They buy into the present system, it is so much easier and popular to agree then it is to dissent.



People like Mr John Redican CEO of the national services executive who stood beside the College of Psychiatry recently in our national parliament, in opposition to a debate to stop the use of forced ECT, and declared that I as, in his words as a “vulnerable member of society” needed the protection of force. A disgraceful statement to send to the general public from a leading voice in user movement.


People like our chair today Mr John Saunders of Schizophrenia Ireland, I am so sorry recent rebranded as Shine, to-days chair, who runs drop in centres that lock the user behind  closed doors. As one of his staff explained to me, to protect the user, from the public. Let me repeat that to protect the user from the public. A great example in the fight against stigma.


Aware which insist a user at their meetings introduces themselves by diagnoses and issue dire warnings not to question your medication, or even discuss that medication with your peers. Knowledge is after all dangerous to the vulnerable.



But most culpable of all will be when you are addressed by Mr Colm O Gorman of Amnesty Ireland, as this is the leading agency in the area of human rights, has now decided to muck into the area of mental health.


I worked for two years with Amnesty on a policy around the mental health act. I told them of the work we did in New York on the whole issue of force at the UN concerning articles 12  and 17 of the Convention of the rights of the Disabled, that calls for a paradigm shift on how we see the mad community in law.


To this day Amnesty refuse to issue a statement condemning the use of force in the treatment of so called “mental Illness”. They simply believe that I am a second class citizen and that I need the protection of force outside the common law.



I so hope that he takes the opportunity this week to redress that fact and state clearly that Amnesty supports the fact that force has no place outside the common law in the treatment of the normality of madness.


Please bear in mind that these leaders have refused to condemn the use of force in the treatment of the normality of madness, when they expound on their efforts to change policy, but not the law.


When they tell you of their efforts to manipulate the mental health act to make it harder to use force, and are content that this satisfies their conscience around my human rights as an equal citizen of Ireland.


Surprising as it may seem, those most open to discussion and dissent are the HSE under the new management of Mr Martin Rogan, the mental health commission, we hold out hope for since the appointment of Mr Hugh Kane. But public servants across the system must find the courage to say publically what they agree on privately.


A major thank you to Senator Dan Boyle for opening the political debate, and to Minister John Moloney we sincerely pray that you listen to that great heart of yours and let it dictate to you to do  the right thing, walk outside convention, as you and I know you really want to.


Finally that is the power of Mad Pride Ireland to expose this abuse of power that makes victims of so many innocent Irish citizens, by never mentioning any of this at any of its events.



20,000 people have walked through our events to date from a standing start three years ago, without fear, no speeches, no protests, no alternatives, but questions are now being asked, and answers are being demanded.


The media is beginning to open its eyes, politics will follow. So come along next Saturday see for yourself. Celebrate difference with us and together we will stop loneliness and kill the fear that fuels force.


So welcome to Ireland despite all I said above this is a great country, I so love being Irish, and mad, what a combination!


My rights as a citizen are protected now by my pride in my madness if not yet by law.


I will be in the bar later mine is a whiskey if you are buying.


Thank you for listening.