Ousted MPs McDonnell and Kinahan launch new lobby firm
TWO MPs who lost their seats in the last Westminster election have joined forces with a former Stormont special adviser to create a new lobbying company.
Former SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell and former Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan have teamed up with ex-UTV journalist Ray Hayden to launch Upton Public Affairs.
The company, which is registered at a London address, was set up in October last year, just months after two of its three directors lost their Westminster jobs.
Mr McDonnell (68) was unseated last June by the DUP in South Belfast after holding the seat for the SDLP for 12 years.
Mr Kinahan (59) also lost out to the DUP just over two years after a pulling off a shock victory over the party's William McCrea.
Mr Hayden (61), a one-time adviser to Stormont economy minister Sir Reg Empey, has been active in public relations for more than a decade through Anglewise, a firm he runs with his wife Nuala.
Anglewise's clients include the Police Federation for Northern Ireland and Belfast International Airport.
Until 2015, the former UTV journalist was on the board of cross-border body InterTradeIreland.
Mr McDonnell, who led the SDLP for four years until 2015, told The Irish News that it was "early days" for the company and "nothing to get wildly excited about".
When asked whether the firm would be London or Belfast based, he said: "We'll operate where we have work to do."
"We're just keen to help people generate jobs," he said.
"Despite all the doom and gloom, quite a lot of businesses are constructive and hopeful."