David Davin-Power hangs up his RTÉ microphone after almost two decades

‘Zombie doughnut’ episode at 2009 Fianna Fáil ard fheis remembered

Veteran RTÉ news reporter David Davin-Power retired today. He worked as Northern Editor and a Political Correspondent for the station as well as helping set up Morning Ireland the stations flagship morning radio show. Video: RTÉ

 

The Dáil is still in Easter recess but when hostilities resume on Tuesday, a familiar figure will be absent from Leinster House.

David Davin-Power, RTÉ’s long-serving Political Correspondent, bowed out on Friday after almost two decades in the job. His low-key exit took politicians by surprise when he sent out a text to Oireachtas members announcing his departure from RTÉ and thanking them for their “courtesy down through the years.”

DDP (as he is known) added: “I’d like to say what a privilege it has been to serve as a pol corr for the past 16 years. There were ups and downs and tumultuous times and I hope that I helped in some way to bring a bit of clarity to the picture and maybe encourage a bit of understanding of the work of Ministers, TDs and Senators.”

Davin-Power became a household-name in the 1980s, presenting the fledgling Morning Ireland news programme with David Hanly. He left RTÉ for a brief period to become Head of News at the ill-fated Century radio before returning to Montrose to become Northern Editor during the heady years of the IRA ceasefires and Good Friday Agreement.

In 2001, the fruity tones of the Gonzaga-educated broadcaster soon became part of the political landscape when he moved to Leinster House. For there he reported from the Corridors of (Davin) Power, smoothly delivering reports with an unblinking gaze.

DDP’s trademark unflappability was tested to the limit during a memorable broadcast in the immediate aftermath of Brian Cowen’s keynote speech to the 2009 Fianna Fáil ard fheis. The “zombie doughnut” episode saw the journalist surrounded by a large group of FF supporters as he went live to the nine o’clock news from the conference.

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The expressionless men, standing in eerie silence and staring vacantly into the middle distance, clustered closely around him as he addressed the nation . One of them suddenly disappeared from view, popped up again facing the wrong way and then swivelled around without saying a word.

It was both unsettling and hilarious and very quickly became a hit on YouTube.

But RTÉ bosses were not amused. These days, RTÉ reporters doing live reports on keynote nights have to climb a rickety ladder to a special platform above the delegates to prevent repeat performances.

On the night of a failed heave against Taoiseach Cowen, DDP was doing a report from inside the gates of Leinster House when Ned O’Keefe beetled along the plinth in the background. The then Fianna Fáil TD for Cork East stopped, peered across at the cameras, saw his opportunity and quietly sidled into shot. Davin-Power continued to talk, oblivious to the fact that O’Keefe was now standing expectantly at his shoulder.

“I think there is somebody who wants to talk to you” remarked newsreader Una O’Hagan, back in the studio. He turned, and without missing a beat said smoothly “I have deputy Ned O’Keefe with me here.....”, and then proceeded to interview the delighted deputy.

One big question has followed him throughout his time covering Irish politics. It’s about his vigorously curly hair. Beered-up delegates at party conferences have been known to tug at it in an effort to prove it isn’t real.

Some years ago DDP received a neatly typed letter.

It read: “Have you no family or friends who would tell you that the wig you are wearing is terrible? It is so obvious it is funny. Why don’t you buy a new one or just be bald?

A viewer.”

While he may be leaving RTÉ, David has no intention of taking to the golf course or going off to tend his roses. He says he is looking for new challenges.

“For now, a second career beckons” he said on Friday.