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Donegal Man Leads Irish Guide Dogs for the Blinds Briefing

Pictured outside Leinster House are Claire Hawkins with Assistance Dog Gandon, , Kevin Kelly with his Guide Dog Miles and Lean Kennedy with her Guide Dog Murphy.

SENATOR Mary Ann O’Brien was delighted to welcome a team of staff and clients from Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind (IGDB) to Leinster House for what was a very informative briefing for TD’s and Senators.

Senator O’Brien has a special reason for wanting to raise awareness of the excellent work of IGDB as her Parliamentary Secretary, Kevin Kelly, is a Guide Dog Owner.

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Kevin, from Clonmany, lost his sight aged 14. He trained with Guide Dog Miles in 2008 and credits the confidence and independence which he has attained as a major factor in his securing a very important and influential role.

The IGDB team was headed by Chairman Alan Dukes (back in familiar surroundings) while CEO, Padraig Mallon, Lean Kennedy Guide Dog Owner and Access and Education Officer and Aoife Josh Mobility Officer and Claire Hawkins.

Claire gave a moving account of her experience of having Assistance Dog Gandon for her son AJ who has autism. The TD’s and Senators were asked for their help in securing additional Statutory Funding for IGDB as at present the organisation is struggling to raise over 85% of its annual income from fundraising.

Speaking at the event Alan Dukes set out the important role played by IGDB, the pressure to meet increased demand for services and the real difficulty in having to raise over €3.5 million each year in order to sustain the organisation.

Senator O’Brien stated that she knew the value of a Guide Dog from her first-hand experience of working with Kevin and she pledged her support to help secure additional Statutory Funding for Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.

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