A former Ballyshannon resident with strong Bundoran family connections and founder of SpunOut.ie has been appointed to the Council of State by President Michael D. Higgins. But he has admitted that it was the inspiration he got while in Donegal that resulted in him receiving a call from the President earlier this month. One of the youngest ever members of the Council, 34-year-old Ruairí McKiernan told the Democrat: “I am deeply honoured to have been appointed by President Michael D Higgins to the Council of State. SpunOut.ie was Donegal inspired and I have to thank many people for both their input and inspiration.
Ruairí is the son of Bundoran woman Ann Keenaghan and grandson of Dan and Mary. He founded SpunOut.ie from William Allingham House initially based in the Mall, Ballyshannon alongside friends Keith Corcoran from Laghey and Anna Lally from Rossnowlagh - a former Democrat reporter.
He added that a weekly column through the Donegal Democrat also gave a huge impetus for the growing organisation, and local supporters including Jimmy Keogh, Principal of Colaiste Cholmcille; Anne Sheridan, Janet Gaynor and Larry Masterson from the HSE and Susan McLaughlin from Foróige.
“After travelling in Spain and returning to south Donegal and staying with family in Rathmore, my head was full of ideas and projects. It was the inspiration that resulted in the creation of the youth organisation. We eventually moved to Galway and more recently Dublin.”
Ruairí will take his place alongside the President’s six other nominees in addition to ‘ex-officio’ members Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, former Taoisigh Albert Reynolds, Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, and former Presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese. The Council of State is a body established by the constitution to advise the President in the exercise of his or her discretionary powers.
For the past 13 years he has been working and campaigning on youth, community and global issues and has received numerous awards for his work. He studied business in Scotland before living and working in the U.S, Australia and Canada. Following his passion for community issues, he later joined the North Western Health Board in Letterkenny as a Youth Health Promotion Worker.
In 2004 he started the pioneering SpunOut.ie national youth organisation, which now reaches 100,000s of young people each year and last year he was a founder and organiser of the Possibilities 2011 Social Summit, which brought the Dalai Lama to Ireland. More recently Ruairí stepped down from his role at SpunOut.ie to develop new projects.
“I felt ot was time to move on and let some fresh blood into the organisation. I will now be concentrating on consultancy work for youth other youth and community organisations.”
He is now looking forward to contributing further to the transformation of Ireland in the years to come. “Ireland is obviously in a very difficult place at the moment. However if each of us can have the courage to take risks, get organised, question the status quo and propose and demand alternatives, then we can really transform our country in the coming years. The old mindsets and systems have failed us so it’s time for something different to address the root causes of issues like abuse, racism, corruption, unemployment, mental illness and environmental neglect. I don’t think politicians have all the answers and it is up to all of us to create a new Ireland that brings innovation, jobs, hope and happiness. It is a tough time for many people but often challenges like these can give us the push we need to take the bold steps needed to change things about ourselves and our country.”