Belfast Telegraph

Public affairs firm Stratagem merges with Connect

Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland public affairs boss Quintin Oliver is stepping down as his agency is acquired by a Westminster communications specialist.

Connect is taking over Belfast-based Stratagem, which has been led by Mr Oliver for 21 years.

One of its first achievements was the successful campaign for a Yes vote in the 1998 referendum on the Good Friday Agreement.

Stratagem head of consultancy Grainne Walsh will lead the Stratagem team in Belfast, where clients include Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company and the British Heart Foundation.

Connect, which is based at Millbank in London, was established in the early 1990s.

Ms Walsh said: “Today’s news represents an exciting opportunity for Stratagem.

“We would like to thank and pay tribute to Quintin for his vision in founding Stratagem and leadership to make us Northern Ireland’s number one public affairs agency.

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“Quintin’s dedication and passion for politics and our business has seen Stratagem thrive and deliver outstanding results.

“These are changing times in politics and public policy, and it is now the right time for Stratagem to become part of a UK wide team with Connect and broaden our client offer.”

Mr Oliver said: “Stratagem has defined the public affairs market in Northern Ireland ever since the Good Friday Agreement two decades ago.

“Bringing Stratagem together with Connect makes huge sense at this stage, with talks underway, hopefully for the Assembly and Executive to return, and with the Brexit drama unfolding around us, across these islands.   

“The joint business will bring added scale, investment and strong relationships with key policy-makers, opinion-formers and political institutions.

“I am pleased that the team at Stratagem will continue, headed by Gráinne Walsh and I wish them well as I now take a step away to concentrate on other projects.”

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