Gruelling climb prepares Una for new political post
IF you were impressed by former Secretary of State Owen Paterson trekking across Mongolia in the footsteps of Genghis Khan, wait until you hear about Una Flynn (right), the new head of communications at the Northern Ireland Office.
She e-mailed me to let me know that she had got the job last Thursday, the very day she scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, which stand 19,341 feet above sea-level.
That meant a five-day trek and eight hours of climbing through ice and snow.
"It is the best thing I ever did," says the Dundrum woman, who plans two marathons – one in Stockholm and the other Berlin – in the next few months.
"I love extreme adventures, so I figure I'll cope with the challenges of working in Northern Ireland politics," she said.
So far, she has raised £15,000 for the Alzheimer's Society by taking part in such challenges in memory of her father, Sean, who died of dementia in August 2011.
The Queen's University anthropology graduate will be the first recent NIO information chief to be based in London, although she will take frequent trips to Belfast alongside Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State, who will be her boss.
Her five years in the civil service include a spell with Peter Mandelson, learning the dark arts of the spin doctor at the hands of the master.