Aerospace veteran dedicates knighthood to thousands of workers past and present

Michael Ryan, vice president and general manager of Spirit AeroSystems, Belfast, who is to be knighted for his services to the economy.

THE head of the Spirit AeroSystems operation in Northern Ireland, Michael Ryan, is to be knighted for his services to the economy.

The Belfast-born aerospace veteran, who joined Short Brothers straight out of Queen's University in 1981, last year helped manage its transition to the new ownership of Kansas-based Spirit AeroSystems.

It came just over 30 years after Shorts was acquired by Bombardier in 1989.

Mr Ryan was appointed vice-president and general manager of Bombardier in May 2000, a position he continues to hold.

“In a manufacturing organisation, no achievement is possible without the involvement of all its people,” he said last night.

“This is a recognition of the efforts of thousands of former and current employees to support our company's continued success in a highly competitive, global business, and its contribution to our community.”

Spirit AeroSystems said the knighthood was a well-deserved honour.

“It is an acknowledgement not only of his personal commitment to enhancing Northern Ireland's reputation for innovation in aerospace and the company's ongoing community engagement, but of the dedication of the entire workforce at our Belfast site.”

A number of other well-known business figures have been named in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

O'Neills boss Kieran Kennedy, who will shortly retire after 42 years with the Co Tyrone sportswear manufacturer, said he was delighted with his MBE for services during the Covid-19 pandemic

The company quickly responded to the crisis in March 2020 by turning its Strabane facility into a PPE operation, making medical gowns for the health trusts.

William Hunter of Derry-based Hunter Apparel Solutions has similarly been recognised for the work the company performed in producing PPE for health workers during the pandemic,

The 75-year-old is to receive an OBE for services to the economy and community in Co Derry.

Meanwhile the chief executive of Belfast IT services group Kainos, Brendan Mooney, is to receive an OBE for services to the economy.

Now one of the north's most successful businesses, Kainos created just 300 jobs in the past year, with plans to recruit hundreds more in 2021.

The Belfast company is now valued at around £1.75 billion.

Veteran Co Down business figure Ronnie Foreman and the chief executive of the Labour Relations Agency, Thomas Evans, will also receive OBEs.

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