Four years after he failed his Leaving Certificate, Daniel Whooley is instilling hope in students that exams don’t determine their path after he became Deputy Mayor of Fingal at just 22-years-old.
"I felt like when I failed the Leaving Cert I expected like a big game over screen to pop up and just to drop through a hole,” he told Independent.ie. "And that's because that's how it's made out to be, but it's not like that at all.”
Mr Whooley is currently a Green Party councillor for Ongar, a cybersecurity student in TU Dublin, and yesterday was elected as Deputy Mayor for Fingal County Council.
Speaking about his new appointment today, the Dubliner said “it’s so strange to say it aloud” and that he’s delighted he was selected.
The 22-year-old first got involved with the Green Party while attending a PLC course in Dunboyne the year after he finished school.
Then when he was in his first year in TU Dublin in 2019 he decided to bite the bullet and run in the local elections, however, his parents weren’t too happy about this.
"I was in my first year of college [when I ran] and I think no one, including myself, expected me to win,” he said.
"I was 20 and the Greens at the time weren't doing great in the polls. My parents also weren't particularly happy that I was spending my time between college and running, especially considering I failed my Leaving Cert just two years before.
"But, I got it and I don't know how I got it to this day. And now I'm just taking the job really seriously because I knew how far I had fallen and how hard I had to work to get to where I am.”
On how he juggles the commitment of studying and being a councillor, Mr Whooley laughed and said “ I don't really have a good answer. I spend most days until two or three in the morning finishing some college work or some council work.”
The Dubliner said it’s all worth it though because he loves his college course and working with people in his community. However, since his new appointment as Deputy Mayor for Fingal, he said he will be deferring his final year in college to focus on the position.
In the future, Mr Whooley said he hopes to merge his love for politics and cybersecurity.
"I'd love to merge both,” he said. “I'd love to get involved in something like digital rights or data protection, which is a very niche issue. But, I think especially with the HSE hack it's kind of coming to the fore a bit more.”
As just four years after failing his Leaving Cert the new Deputy Lord Mayor has paved an impressive way in politics for himself, he tells current students that “there’s always another way.”
"If you don't get what you want, let that sadness set in for 10 or 15 minutes, cry it out, then pick yourself back up,” he said.
"Find out another way to get what you want, for me it was through a PLC and for other people it could be through internships.
"But, there's always another way and there’s always another opportunity.”