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Ruairi McAleese, kind and witty community activist

Lawyer described as ‘stalwart comrade and dear friend’

29 November, 2019 — By Sally Gimson

Ruairi McAleese: ‘The kind of young man that Camden has always welcomed’

RUAIRI McAleese, who died last week aged 40, was the kind of young man that Camden has always welcomed.

Gay, fiercely intelligent, left-wing and a community activist, the friends he made in this part of London were the family he chose.

And he threw himself into community activities. He was governor at Torriano Primary school for 12 years and one of the longest serving directors at Kentish Town Community Centre.

He was nurtured in Camden by these two institutions which benefited from his wisdom, political nous and expertise.

He kept Torriano governors on their toes and was rigorous about proper governance.

As vice-chair he made sure that the long-time chair was subjected to regular 360-degree reviews where the views of all the members of the school community were gathered so his performance could be measured.

And as a trustee at Kentish Town he was instrumental in raising the £900,000 needed to enlarge the building so that it could be of a size that made it sustainable.

Ruairi was born in 1979 in Northern Ireland and grew up in Mallusk, just outside Belfast. He went to Belfast Royal Academy and then Oxford University where he took a first in law from Magdalen College and won multiple prizes.

By day he was a government solicitor in the legal service. Latterly he worked in the Treasury.

But he had a real interest in LGBTQ+ rights and when the 2010 Equality Act was being developed, he asked to be allowed to work on it. He also fought for LGBTQ+ rights within the civil service and across civil society.

He is remembered fondly by the Labour party, of which he was a member in Camden Town and Primrose Hill, as a kind man, a stalwart comrade and dear friend, who always stood up for the little person.

But also someone who was both incredibly witty and very private.

He could not be on the front line because of his work in government, but was a great support to his local councillors.

He was most recently involved with a group who set up the Desert Island Picks event for Keir Starmer. A fan of Leicester City football club, Ruairi will be sorely missed.

He is survived by his partner Andrew Jones, his parents Laura and John and his brother Christy.


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