herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

RTE journalist mugged during Scottish vote

Philip Boucher-Hayes
Philip Boucher-Hayes

RTE journalist Philip Boucher Hayes was mugged while working at the Scottish independence referendum.

The well known broadcaster had his recording equipment stolen in Edinburgh and then had to pay st£200 (€254) from the thieves to recover it.

The head of the RTE Radio Investigative Unit is in Edinburgh to cover the historic vote for Radio One's Drive Time programme.

He also co-presents prime time TV programme CrimeCall on RTE1 with Grainne Seoige and has filled in for Joe Duffy on his radio show Liveline.

Streets

Yesterday, he decided instead of interviewing prominent figures involved in the debate, it would be "much more informative to head out onto the streets" and interview regular people.

The reporter, who has worked with RTE for more than 20 years, took himself off to Niddrie, a suburb south east of Edinburgh, described by the City of Edinburgh Council as an areas with "significantly high rates of unemployment" and higher than average rates of crime.

Philip was confronted by a man who grabbed his recording equipment and then cheekily offered it back for £200.

The reporter promptly paid up, mindful of the impact the theft would have had on his ability to present his evening radio report.

He later tweeted that he was "told I was 'lucky you're not English' or it would have cost me even more".

The reporter was based on his own in the Scottish capital when he took to the streets.

"For TV you're with a crew. For radio you're on your own with expensive satellite gear. Tend to get noticed," he later tweeted. "Screwed up the day. Only finished cutting (the radio) package now. No live guest for 6pm," he added.

Twitter followers expressed their sympathy and some gently ribbed and asked if he got a receipt for the ransom payment.

Mr Boucher Hayes told the Herald he had a "bruised ego and a sore jaw but grand otherwise".

He later tweeted a photo of himself with his radio equipment outside the Scottish parliament where he spoke live to Radio 1.

The Kildare-born journalist never made any mention of his ordeal in his live report on Drive Time last night.

Instead he enthused about the sense of "something absolutely momentous going on" among the Scottish people.

He said that voters had responded with energy to the question of whether the country should stay in the United Kingdom or become an independent nation.

Interest

Despite covering votes in countries around the world, he added, the Scottish vote had raised such a huge level of interest he had "never really experienced anything quite like this in the Western world."

Voters turned out in their droves all day yesterday with long queues forming outside many of the polling stations.

Young and old were determined to have their say in the crucial ballot on whether the 307-year-old union between Scotland and England should be brought to an end.

hnews@herald.ie

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