herald

Thursday 15 November 2018

Charlie Bird quits RTE ... but could net €200k

EXIT: Veteran reporter takes deal

FROM the North Pole to Washington and the Philippines, rarely has a Bird flown so far -- but now Charlie is packing his bags for the last time.

RTE'S chief newshound Charlie Bird is quitting the Montrose nest.

The veteran broadcaster has decided to take an early retirement package on offer as part of the station's cost-cutting plan.

And industry estimates suggest that he may be entitled of a lump sum worth more than €200,000, not to mention a pension of up to €80,000 a year.

He has had a much lower profile since his ill-fated stint as RTE's Washington correspondent at the start of President Barrack Obama's term.

Sources say that Mr Bird is among a significant number of "highly experienced staff, both on and off-camera" who will leave the station next month.

Mr Bird said that while it is time to "move on", his decision does not mean that he will be disappearing from the public domain altogether.

"I'm only 63. I haven't even thought what I'm going to do next," he said.

And the chief news correspondent, who now presents a weekend radio show, refused to rule out working for a rival broadcaster.







Challenges

In recent days former RTE news anchor Anne Doyle -- who read her last bulletin on Christmas Day -- has been linked to TV3.

When asked if he would work for one of RTE's rivals, Mr Bird responded: "At the moment I have no idea. That's for the future. I want new challenges, and I think I have plenty in me."

Charlie Bird shot to national fame in 1983 when he interviewed jailed Irish priest Fr Niall O'Brien in the Philippines.

He covered many major events during the Troubles and in 1998 worked with George Lee to break the National Irish Bank story about Fianna Fail's Beverley Cooper-Flynn selling offshore life assurance products that facilitated tax avoidance.

However, things took a turn for the worse when he took up the role as Washington correspondent.

"When I'm back home in Ireland, I can pick up the phone to anyone and get an interview or quote. Here in DC, it was like being a junior reporter," he said before announcing that he was coming home after just two years of a four-year post.

However he said last night that he enjoyed "every minute" of his time with the national broadcaster.

"I have had ups and downs. You don't stay in a place for 38 years without enjoying it," he told the Irish Times.

kdoyle@herald.ie

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