Dr Alistair Hanna’s wife, Nancy, said the £100m Bushmills golf resort was ‘the culmination of a life’s dreams’
The Belfast-born businessman behind the controversial Dunes golf resort near the Giant’s Causeway has died.
Dr Alistair Hanna was 69 and had battled cancer for four years.
He was based in the US for more than 40 years, mostly as an executive in the management consultancy firm McKinsey.
Project architect Richard Hunter said: “Work on the course is due to begin later this year, and it is a tragedy that Ali did not live to see it.”
His plan for the golf course was fought in the High Court in a case brought by the National Trust.
It objected on grounds it was too close to the Giant’s Causeway, a Unesco world heritage site.
But the Stormont environment minister at the time, Alex Attwood, granted planning permission to the resort in February 2012.
The development, on a 365-acre site, includes a championship course, a five-star hotel and 70 lodges.
His wife Nancy said: “The Bushmills complex was the culmination of a life’s dreams, combining Ali’s passion for golf and Northern Ireland.”
Expressing her sadness on hearing of Dr Hanna’s death Causeway Coast Area UUP Cllr Sandra Hunter stated: “I am sadden to hear this news. My thoughts are with his wife and family at this sad time. Dr Hanna was the businessman who had the great insight of the Bushmills golf complex development which is to start this autumn. This will be so important for the Causeway Coast and Northern Ireland, it will help to grow tourism and create new job opportunities in this area and it will enhance the future of our golf product in Northern Ireland, providing a world class links course. Sympathies to his family and friends both in the US and here in Northern Ireland.”
Meanwhile in a statement to the Times Ian Paisley jnr added: “I was very sad to learn of the death of my friend Dr Alistair Hanna. He led the way on the proposals of the Causeway golf course project and after tenacious battles with planning authorities it became a reality. Whilst Alistair will never see the final result of all his hard work, I hope that the golf course will serve as a fitting tribute to a great businessman on the occasion of its completion.
“A great Northern Ireland man who succeeded in the highest circles of business in the United States but never forgot his roots.
“Alistair was a devout Christian and became one of the leading lights in the Alpha project movement. He helped take the gospel to millions of people in Latin America with missionary zeal and no doubt thousands of people have found the faith of Jesus Christ through his witness. Over the years Allistair became a personal friend to myself and my wife Fiona and he will be sadly missed. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”