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Obituary: Dr Alistair Hanna a dynamic businessman who stayed true to Ulster roots

By Alf McCreary

Dr Alistair Hanna was a dynamic Belfast-born businessman and management consultant who was based in New York but retained close ties to his homeland.

A prime mover in developing the controversial new golf course at Bushmills, he had been suffering from cancer, and died on Saturday in a New York hospital at the age of 69.

Alistair Hanna was educated at Sullivan Upper School in Holywood and also at Queen's University from where he graduated in 1968 with an honours degree in physics. He was awarded a PhD in nuclear physics after four years research at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment near Harwell.

In 1974 he gained an MBA at the Harvard Business School, and then worked for over 25 years with the international management consultancy firm McKinsey and Co.

He became a director in 1986, and served as the managing partner of the Stamford office, specialising in microelectronics and software and also telecommunications and aerospace.

Dr Hanna was a committed Christian, who as a student was a member of the Ulster Temple Elim Church on the Ravenhill Road in Belfast.

In later years he became deeply involved in the Alpha movement, founding Alpha North America and also establishing Alpha in Latin America.

He had a wide range of interests, and served on the boards of Fountain House in New York, as well as the famous Trinity Church in Wall Street, and the Queen's Foundation.

He always remained close to his alma mater, and was president of the US Friends of Queen's.

Dr Hanna was a passionate golfer and a member of Royal Portrush Golf Club, where he hosted influential friends from the US and elsewhere each year.

He and his wife Nancy also owned the Ardtara Country House Hotel near Upperlands.

Ali Hanna was the main driving force behind the proposed Bushmills Dunes golf course, which was the subject of extensive planning and legal delays after strong opposition from the National Trust, which objected to its close proximity to the Giant's Causeway.

Dr Hanna's widow, who is a former cleric in the Episcopal Church of the USA, said: "The Bushmills complex was the combination of a life's dreams, combining Ali's passions for golf and for Northern Ireland. His kindness and love of life, his Irish way and humour, his respect for people and his deep faith and humility were characteristics which, coupled with his brilliance and perseverance, made Ali one of a kind."

Dr Hanna is also survived by his daughter Anne and his brother David and by the wider family. A memorial service will be held in Manhattan on July 22, and another service is being planned for Northern Ireland later this year.

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