Former ‘Irish Times’ deputy editor James Downey dies

Distinguished journalist began career at ‘Sligo Champion’ before moving to Dublin

James Downey: described   as ‘the best editor The Irish Times never had’. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

James Downey: described as ‘the best editor The Irish Times never had’. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

James Downey, one of Ireland’s most distinguished journalists, has died.

Born in Dromahair, Co Leitrim, he began his newspaper career in the early 1950s at the Sligo Champion and later moved to the Evening Press in Dublin.

In 1969 he was a Labour candidate in the general election. Later, he moved to The Irish Times, where he became deputy editor.

He set up a highly regarded but short-lived magazine, the New Nation, before moving to the Irish Independent, where for many years he wrote a weekly column.

Downey’s book In My Own Time: Inside Irish Politics and Society was published in 2009. Speaking at the launch, Vincent Doyle, former editor of the Irish Independent, said: “James Downey was the best editor The Irish Times never had.”

Mr Downey died peacefully yesterday at the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin.

He is survived by his wife, Moira, his daughters Rachel and Vanessa and by his siblings. His funeral Mass will take place in St Patrick’s Church, Dromahair, at noon on Saturday.