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DUP names party spin doctor as new adviser to Economy Minister

By Suzanne Breen

Published 14/06/2016

Staying: Stephen Brimstone
Staying: Stephen Brimstone

The DUP's top spin doctor has landed a job as a special adviser (Spad) to Economy Minister Simon Hamilton.

John Robinson, the party's former director of communications, is to take up the senior post.

It is understood that the party is not planning to fill his old job in handling media relations until the autumn.

The 32-year-old, from Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, has a first-class honours degree in communications from Ulster University and has worked for the party for 12 years.

David Graham, the head of history at the Royal School Armagh, is also leaving his job to become a SPAD in the Department of Education.

DUP sources said he was an "exciting, fresh appointment" and his experience in the sector would be of "great assistance" to Education Minister Peter Weir.

Andrew Crawford, a farmer who comes from Beragh, Co Tyrone, is the new SPAD for Michelle McIlveen in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

He is a former employee of the Ulster Farmers' Union and was an adviser to Jim Allister when he was a DUP MEP.

A party source said: "Michelle will be a very diligent Agriculture Minister, but she isn't from a farming background so Andrew is a key appointment.

"He is most knowledgeable on agriculture and on European policy. They will be perfect combination."

Andrew Gowan, a former policy adviser to MEP Diane Dodds is to be Paul Givan's new SPAD in the Department for Communities.

The DUP will have four SPADs in the Executive Office, which is taking over most of the responsibilities of the old Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

Former accountant Timothy Johnston and former barrister Richard Bullick will remain as advisers to Arlene Foster.

They will be joined by Dr Philip Weir, a former hospital doctor who was previously a Department of Health SPAD.

Stephen Brimstone will also remain on as an adviser to Mrs Foster.

A DUP source told the Belfast Telegraph: "We think we have a very strong team of special advisers. They are young, mostly in their 30s, hard-working, and they're all well suited to their departments."

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