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Saturday 19 October 2019

Sharon will be back on air over the Christmas after newsroom dispute

Newsreader Sharon Ni Bheolain
Newsreader Sharon Ni Bheolain

News anchor Sharon Ni Bheolain is expected to be back on the RTE One Nine O'Clock News in the coming days after a dispute at the station.

Ms Ni Bheolain made a formal complaint to RTE bosses after issues arose over co-anchoring a bulletin on December 12. However, according to well-placed sources, she is now due to return to anchor the news over Christmas.

Her dispute with bosses centres on events on December 12, the day when British Prime Minister Theresa May faced a motion of no confidence from her party at Westminster.

Veteran

The Sunday Independent revealed yesterday that Ms Ni Bheolain was at RTE's Montrose campus when she was told the 9pm news would be co-presented from London by Six One co-anchor Caitriona Perry, who is relatively new to that position.

Sources said Ms Ni Bheolain, a 20-year veteran at the State broadcaster, approached senior management figures in RTE to air her discontent.

She then had a further meeting with managing director of news and current affairs Jon Williams, at which it is believed she told him that her position had been undermined.

"Sharon felt, that to ask another presenter, who is relatively new to her job to handle the main breaking news story of the day, on the 9pm main bulletin - which is not co-anchored - would completely erode her credibility with viewers," a source said.

"Some people thought it surprising that Sharon was being so assertive in defending her patch.

"Sharon is tough and assertive but in fairness, in all the years she's always been cool about programme decisions, so it must have really annoyed her.

"When she didn't present the Nine O'Clock the following evening or on Friday, everyone was talking about it."

Ms Perry had been dispatched to Westminster to co-present the news from the no confidence vote.

That vote took place from 6pm until 8pm that night. The result was set to break on the 9pm news, leaving opportunity for Ms Ni Bheolain to take over from the Dublin studio.

Ms Ni Bheolain was understood to have informed RTE that if they wanted a presenter in Westminster, she would have been available to attend.

An RTE source said: "Everything had already been set up over there for the Six One news, so there was no additional cost to the station.

"It would have literally been the price of a plane ticket on what could have been one of the biggest stories of the year, if Mrs May had lost the vote."

It is understood Ms Ni Bheolain made contact with Ms Perry after the newsroom disagreement to state the dispute was not personal and she had only been protecting her position as the 9pm news anchor.

Ms Ni Bheolain, one of the most recognisable and experienced faces at the national broadcaster, has concerns over issues which have emerged since she moved from co-anchor on the Six One news to a new role as sole news anchor on the RTE News: Nine O'Clock.

Gender

Ms Ni Bheolain is said to have informed senior bosses that she believes she has not been given opportunities to advance her career.

A short time before she was placed into the Nine O'Clock news slot, it emerged there had been a sizeable pay gap between her and her former colleague, Bryan Dobson.

Mr Dobson, who now presents RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland, had earned between €60,000 and €80,000 a year more than his colleague.

That story sparked an investigation into the gender pay gap at RTE.

The Herald contacted RTE, Ms Ni Bheolain and Ms Perry yesterday.

The broadcaster said it would not be issuing a comment, as did Ms Ni Bheolain. Ms Perry did not respond.

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