It’s the annual biographical bible on people of influence and interest in every area of public life across the globe – the great and the good who often make the headlines.
rom presidents to popes, the pages of Who’s Who are an encyclopaedia of individuals – some famous – who shape their fields in areas such as politics, academia and the arts.
And its 2021 edition features ten people out of 321 new entries from Northern Ireland.
North Belfast Sinn Fein MP John Finucane, who was elected last autumn, along with his party colleague Emma Rogan, who is MLA for South Down, and the SDLP’s Matthew O’Toole make the 2021 list.
Mr Finucane made headlines earlier this week when he expressed his anger at the government’s decision not to order a public inquiry into the murder of his father, Pat Finucane, a lawyer in 1989.
He is one of four Northern Ireland people in the world of politics to appear in the tome, with the remaining Who’s Who honour going to the Scottish National Party’s Neale Hanvey. Born in Belfast Mr Hanvey is the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Fife.
The Northern Ireland man made waves earlier this year after he was readmitted to the SNP after he was suspended during an election campaign for using anti-Semitic language on social media.
He subsequently apologised “unreservedly” for the posts which he said were “clearly unacceptable”, and was allowed to rejoin on the condition he completed an education course at a Holocaust centre.
Who’s Who has been published annually since 1849, and it is now in its 173rd year. It is widely regarded as the most reliable directory of the noteworthy and influential people in every area of public life.
Inclusion in the volume, as its foreword states, does not confer merit, it recognises it. Inclusion is by invitation only.
Who’s Who 2021 also includes the new addition of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised £38.9m for NHS Charities Together after walking 100 lengths of his garden.
He was knightned by the Queen and gained two Guinness World Records for his efforts during the covid crisis.
Previous Who’s Who editions have also recognised Sir Patrick Vallance, Professor Chris Whitty, Professor. Jonathan Van Tam and Dr Jenny Harries, who all became household names this year due to their television appearances at Down Street Covid briefings – often with Prime Minister Boris Johnston.
Other new names include actor and writer, Robert Webb, who made his name in Channel 4 comedy Peep Show, Dan Jones, best known for his historical programmes and books.
The remaining five Northern Ireland entries go to Belfast-born woman Caroline Campbell, who is director of collections and research at the National Gallery, a post she has held since 2018, and Vice Lord Lieutenant for Co Antrim, Miranda Gray. Gray has been an independent early years specialist for the past eight years.
Other lieutenancy representatives from here which made the 2021 list include David McCorkell, Lord-Lieutenant of Co Antrim and Charles Plunket, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Co Fermanagh. A member of Northern Ireland’s judicial system to make the Who’s Who list next year is High Court Judge, the Honourable Sir Ian Huddleston.
He was appointed to the position in 2019 after a legal career spanning three decades.
In 2017, during his tenure as president of the Law Society, he represented the profession at a policy level on key issues such as Brexit. The clergy is also represented with the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, the Right Reverend Andrew James Forster, who was ordained into his current role by the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Reverend Dr Richard Clarke in December 2019.
At the time of his election, Bishop Forster had been Rector of Drumglass (Dungannon), a position he had held since 2007.
During his consecration service those in attendance heard Bishop Forster described as “a larger than life personality with an infectious sense of humour.”
That characteristic humour was on display when he gave his reaction to be included in the latest edition of Who’s Who.
“I understand that inclusion in the 2021 edition of Who’s Who goes with the territory of being Bishop of Derry and Raphoe,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
“If it helps people to find me well and good – although at 6ft 4inches tall, and dressed in a purple shirt, most people usually have no problem locating me.”
Bishop Forster continued: “I note that the book is described as a list of ‘influential people’ from around the globe.
“I am not being modest when I say that my inclusion in such a prestigious book has little to do with me personally, and everything to do with the God I serve.”
Who’s Who 2021 is published on Monday and is available online at www.ukwhoswho.com.