Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland faces joining Barack Obama in the latest Who's Who: Stormont politicians among new names

By Dick Barton

It's an indispensable guide to the world's most influential people, from outgoing US President Barack Obama to the Pope and even the Dalai Lama. But featuring in the latest edition of Who's Who are a few less obvious names.

Among the luminaries dotted around the pages of the renowned publication are some who most outside Northern Ireland will never have heard of.

They include Stormont newcomers Colin McGrath, Kellie Armstrong and Christopher Stalford.

In total, 18 people from Northern Ireland are among the 930 new entries in the latest edition of Who's Who, which is published on Monday.

Inclusion in the world-famous reference book, which contains potted biographies of 33,000 of some of the most famous, most talented and most influential people in the world, is by invitation only.

Mr Stalford is a DUP MLA for South Belfast. Before being elected to the Assembly in May, he worked in the party's press and policy offices.

Mrs Armstrong has been a member of the Alliance Party for more than seven years, representing the Strangford constituency, while Mr McGrath is an SDLP MLA for South Down.

The Northern Ireland newcomers also include:

Marie Anderson, who was appointed Public Services Ombudsman earlier this year and who celebrates her 56th birthday next Wednesday;

Mark H Durkan (38), an SDLP MLA for Foyle ;

Robert Adair, chief executive of Belfast Harbour Commissioners, who celebrates his milestone 60th birthday on December 21;

And Dromore-born Mr Justice Adrian Colton, a Northern Ireland High Court judge and, like Mrs Anderson, Mr Durkan and Mr Adair, a graduate of Queen's University in Belfast.

In Who's Who they join other new entries including Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, award-winning actress Tracey 'Three Of A Kind' Ullman and Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

Familiar Northern Ireland names already in Who's Who include First Minister Arlene Foster, Martin McGuinness, Ian Paisley junior and Gerry Adams.

Everyone in Who's Who is invited to compile his or her own entry, so biographies can be as long or as short as celebrities wish.

The late romantic novelist Dame Barbara Cartland required 222 lines - nearly a whole page - in the 1997 edition to explain her mostly literary achievements.

The entries of the Northern Ireland contingent are comparatively brief and modest.

Mrs Anderson tells her life story in just 11 lines, while Mrs Armstrong is even more succinct, requiring just eight lines.

Mr Durkan sums up his achievements in just six lines - and it would have been five if he had not included his business address.

Mr Adair, meanwhile, requires 17 lines, three fewer than the 20-line entry of Pope Benedict XV1 and also three more than the 14-line entry for Barack Obama.

Everyone in Who's Who is invited to detail their hobbies and pastimes.

Writer Julie Burchill (57) lists hers as "sex and shopping."

Other new entrants include Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw, firefighter turned UUP MLA Robbie Butler, former Education Minister Mervyn Storey, award-winning Belfast sculptor Tim Shaw and Angela Rafferty, a Coleraine-born barrister who became a Queen's Counsel last year.

Enniskillen-born Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine, who has been deputy commander of the Naval Striking and Support Forces in Nato since last year, also makes an appearance.

James Harra, director general of business tax at HM Revenue and Customs, and Hugh Widdis, departmental solicitor and head of the Government legal service for Northern Ireland since 2015, are on the list.

The final three are UUP MLA Alan Chambers, SDLP MLA Claire Hanna and UUP MLA Philip Smith.

They will now all remain in Who's Who until they die, when they will be automatically transferred to its sister publication, Who Was Who.

  • The 2017 edition of Who's Who will be published by A & C Black on Monday, priced at £295

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