DSS Champion Margaret Turley
08 Sep, 2023
Margaret Turley is the owner of a very impressive new piece of jewellery - an Olympic gold medal.
Recently from the Special Olympics in Berlin, where she was part of the victorious Ireland basketball team, Margaret has the medal, and a few bruises, to show for her winning endeavours. She says she hasn't worn the medal down to the shops, but it has been given an airing.
"I did bring it to the gym because I wanted to show my trainer and show everyone in Westwood," she said. Emer O'Shea of Inclusion Ireland jokes that when Margaret wins her next Olympic medal, she'll turn the pair of them into earrings.
Yet this year's Games was a long time in the making. In 2018, Margaret was primed to compete, only for an unfortunate injury to snatch away the opportunity. "I broke my wrist trampolining," she recalls. "Just at the very end [of the training schedule] I slipped, I lost balance and put arm out and heard a snap." It meant that this time around Margaret was taking no chances when it came to injury risk. Yet in many ways Margaret's life has been one of constantly exploring all the various options.
A graduate of the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities in the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin, Margaret secured a job with EY. "I was so nervous I didn't have breakfast," Margaret says. "I was absolutely terrified, even like, the first day just to meet them before they offered me an internship, and I was so scared."
She need not have worried. The job has been a success, and her colleagues had a special reception for her on her return from Berlin, complete with cake in the canteen. Margaret has also appeared before Oireachtas Committees and is targeting an appearance at the Winter Games - in skiing. She trains at Kilternan in Wicklow.
In fact, being a DSS Champion isn’t just the latest string to her bow, though she is acutely aware of the importance of the role.
"The DSS shows that people with disabilities know they have rights, secondly we know what our rights are, and thirdly sometimes we need support and it's ok to ask for support, and just because you ask for support doesn't mean you are going to not make the decision yourself.
"It's very, very, very important that people are the ones to make the decisions themselves."
Emer agrees, citing the policy at Margaret's place of residence at a shared residential service which precludes her from using a gas cooker because of an incident many years ago involving a different resident - something Emer calls a "blanket assumption".
"I would have huge hopes that society and services will start to shift away from this blanket assumption of capacity and recognise that none of us know things if we are not taught them," Emer says.
Margaret is setting herself new targets all the time, and she's not afraid to think big. Asked what her future aims are, she responds: "Take over the world." She might only be half-joking.
To learn a little bit more about Margaret, please watch a short video at this link.