Thursday 19 January 2017

Minister 'bullied' at school because of disease

Paul Healy and James Donoghue

Published 13/05/2015 | 02:30

Ged Nash
Ged Nash
Linda Watts from Tuam, Co Galway, with her daughter Sophie O’Grady (14), who suffers from scoliosis, displaying a picture on their T-shirts of an X-ray of Sophie’s spine at the protest by families at Leinster House yesterday

A senior politician has spoken openly for the first time about how he was bullied as a child because he had Crohn's disease.

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Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash told the Irish Independent how the life-altering disease led to regular hospitalisation and bullying from fellow classmates.

He said he was first diagnosed as a teenager.

"Growing up it was severely challenging, especially in those early years between 14 and 18," he said.

"I was regularly hospitalised but, thankfully, my school was very understanding of my condition.

"I was a very healthy, confident, and dare I say athletic sporty guy before I was diagnosed, and then my life changed overnight", he said.

"I was bullied because some people didn't understand or misinterpreted my illness.

"Some of the symptoms of course are difficult to talk about and that made it worse.

"I had problems when I first entered employment."

Mr Nash was a guest speaker at the launch of a new report outlining the full extent of the disease on Irish society.

The report 'Gut Decisions' is leading the change to improve the lives of people with Crohn's and colitis.

It found that an estimated 20,000 people were living with the diseases in Ireland.

Of those surveyed, it was revealed that almost half indicated that they had lost - or had to leave - their job because of their illness.

Both inflammatory diseases can cause diarrhoea, severe abdominal pain and cramping, nausea and vomiting, reduced appetite and weight loss.

Meanwhile, parents outside Dáil Éireann staged a protest over long waiting lists for their children with scoliosis.

Teenager Chloe Nugent from Raheny (16) said she felt that her plight was "neglected" during a vital stage of her growth.

Irish Independent

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