President Michael D Higgins has made seven appointments to the Council of State, which can offer him counsel and advice in certain circumstances.

The appointees are Michael Farrell, Prof Deirdre Heenan, Justice Catherine McGuinness, Prof Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, Ruairí McKiernan, Sally Mulready and Prof Gerard Quinn.

Mr Farrell is the senior solicitor with Free Legal Advice Centres and in the past was involved in the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.

Prof Heenan is Provost and Dean of Academic Development for the University of Ulster's Magee Campus.

Justice McGuinness is a former Senator, Supreme Court judge and president of the Law Reform Commission.

Prof Tuathaigh is Professor Emeritus of NUI, Galway and a former Cathaoirleach of Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Mr McKiernan is a social entrepreneur and community activist who founded national youth organisation

Ms Mulready is a local Labour councillor in London and has worked in the Irish emigrant community in Britain for many years.

Prof Quinn is the director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI, Galway and has worked on issues around disability with the United Nations and European Union.

The appointees will join the existing 17 members of the Council which includes the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Chief Justice Susan Denham and a number of other senior figures.

Former office holders including Mary McAleese, Liam Cosgrave and Bertie Ahern are also members of the Council of State.