Longford-Westmeath TD confirms motor neurone illness

Longford-Westmeath TD Nicky McFadden has revealed that she has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Longford-Westmeath TD Nicky McFadden has revealed that she has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

The Fine Gael TD had noticed about eight months ago that she had begun to speak slowly in order to avoid slurring her words. She initially suspected that it was a problem with her vocal cords.

The nuerologist, Prof. Orla Hardiman diagnosed her with motor nuerone disease last Thursday. The Athlone native admitted that she was “shocked and distressed” by the diagnosis but she said that after a couple of days it became clear to her that “this was something to be fought and I am a fighter.”

Deputy McFadden insisted she will adopt a “business as usual” approach to her job. She is determined to maintain her heavy workload and represent her constituents as vigorously as ever. She alluded to the Custume Barracks in Athlone as an issue on which she is determined to keep campaigning. She is anxious that the facility not be “stripped of its brigade headquarter status” as is reportedly being threatened.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny praised Ms McFadden for the courage with which she was facing her illness and stated “We have no doubt that Nicky will continue her work with her customary conviction and energy.”

Ms McFadden was first elected to the Dail in last year’s general election having served as a Senator between 2007 and 2011.

She said that the onset of her illness has been “subtle”, thus far, only affected her speech. It has not extended to muscle weakness in her arms and legs. She completed a 10-mile walk for the Irish Countrywomen’s Association three weeks ago.

She is adamant she has “never surrendered in the face of a challenge and I’m not going to surrender to this either.” She acknowledged the support of her colleagues and friends saying “I have the full support of my party and will have the practical help of my good friends and staff to assist me in continuing my work as a Dail deputy.”