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LGBT activist named Mayo’s Most Inspirational Woman 2016


MACNIFICIENT SEVEN Mayo Rape Crisis Centre Director Loretta Hoban with this year’s nominees for Mayo’s Inspirational Woman award, from left: Noeline Haylett, Marina Tuffy, Maureen Healy, Loretta Hoban, Marian Navin, Jutta Kirrkamm, Lavinia Slater Gilmartin and Olive O’Donnell at MRCC’s Nollaig na mBan event at the Ballina Manor Hotel. Pic: Alison Laredo

Áine Ryan

MAYO’S Inspirational Woman of the Year 2016 has been honoured for ‘her enduring search to find ways to make it easier for those particularly the young who may be struggling with LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) issues’. Ms Marina Tuffy was named at the annual Nollaig na mBan event, held in Ballina on Friday night last, January 6. Organised by Mayo Rape Crisis Centre (MRCC), the award ceremony and gala evening is now in its third year.  
Ms Tuffy, who was presented with her award by Marian Harkin, MEP, was chosen from a list of seven nominees which included, Olive O’Donnell, Noeline Haylett, Jutta Kirrkamm, Marian Navin, Lavinia Slater Gilmartin and Maureen Healy.
“These are all a wonderful group of inspirational women who give time, energy and heart to a number of projects, groups, communities and families. The list of their activities, kindnesses and their areas of expertise, skill and commitment is truly awesome. The award recipient Marina was nominated for her enduring capacity to welcome ‘the other’ in so many ways but also her enduring search to find ways to make it easier for those, particularly the young, who may be struggling with LGBT issues,” said organiser, Ruth McNeely.
She continued: “Marina has an understanding and expertise born from her own experiences that she uses to make it easier for others.
Praising all the nominees, Ms McNeely explained the awards were ‘a way of recognising the incredible hidden courage of those who use the services of Mayo Rape Crisis Centre and who go back to their own families and communities and make changes that help make Mayo a safer place’.
“This year the issues that the women have been nominated for range over several key current areas. From being nominated again for just being truly themselves, caring for and fighting for others is the major theme in all the nominations,” Ms McNeely said.
She congratulated Marina, all the other nominees, the organising commmittee, sponsors and donators.

IN the moving citation nominating Marina Tuffy, her wife, American-born Cynthia Silva wrote about how the Mayo native had welcomed her ‘as a blow-in to a small village’. As a widow, whose husband had died from a heart attack when her four children were very young, Marina Tuffy ‘knew about not fitting in, from childhood pain, heartache, loss, and fear’.
The citations continues: “She doesn’t believe in giving up, even when others wish she would.  She believes in truth, equality and listening and giving and doing. Accidental activist, co-founder of three LGBT groups, for adults and youths, in Roscommon and Mayo, she works at making a difference, as a psychotherapist in CIPC (Counselling in Primary Care),  the Eden Programme for individuals with suicidal thoughts, and the National Counselling service for those abused.” She said since they had celebrated Nollaig na mBan since they met in 2002, this honour would be very appropriate for her partner.

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