TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid to the charismatic mental health campaigner John McCarthy, who passed away yesterday.
McCarthy, 61, who founded the group Mad Pride Ireland to open up debate on mental health issues and pushed for the “normality of madness” to be accepted, had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease two years ago.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said McCarthy had “helped bring about a major change in how people view mental illness,” adding: “He handled his own diagnosis with motor neurone disease with dignity and bravery, and continued his work on behalf of those living with mental illness.”
Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State for health, said she had been looking forward to working with McCarthy after appointing him to a group implementing the National Disability Strategy.
“I regret that I will not now have that opportunity as people with the drive, determination and infectious enthusiasm that John had are exactly what is needed to bring about meaningful change,” she said. “Any time I met John, I always came away with a smile and a laugh.”
In one of his final columns for the Cork Independent, posted on December 29, McCarthy wrote: “My health, like the economy, is going to shite, but my spirit is growing.” He continued:
‘Mental illness’ is not about lack of resources, it is about an ethos based on the right to force a cure, on victims, who are patients. I will fight that abusive ethos as long as I have a breath in me.
Twitter has also been alive with tributes to McCarthy from TDs and others. Here are a selection: