Death of BBC broadcaster Paddy O’Flaherty aged 73

Politicians and colleagues pay tribute to popular journalist noted for ‘great voice’

Paddy O’Flaherty: Described by colleages as a “fantastic” radio broadcaster. Photograph: Trevor Ferris

Paddy O’Flaherty: Described by colleages as a “fantastic” radio broadcaster. Photograph: Trevor Ferris

 

The death has occurred after a short illness of well-known BBC journalist Paddy O’Flaherty, the BBC announced on Tuesday. He was 73.

A popular broadcaster with a distinctive voice, he reported on various aspects of the Troubles as well as many other facets of Northern Ireland society. He was also a keen angler and violinist and devotee of country music.

On BBC Radio Ulster and previously on Downtown Radio he presented country music shows, featuring the likes of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn.

Among the many tributes paid to Mr O’Flaherty, First Minister Arlene Foster expressed her sorrow at his death describing him as “such a gentle person”, while DUP MP Ian Paisley said he was one of the most courteous and decent people he “had the honour to meet”.

Ulster Unionist Party leader and former UTV broadcaster Mike Nesbitt said of Mr O’Flaherty: “Great voice. Great journalist. Great man”.

‘Warm familiarity’

Former SDLP leader Mark Durkan said he was an engaging and versatile broadcaster and “gentleman” with a “casual authority and warm familiarity” who made his work “seem easy”.

Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists, Séamus Dooley, said Mr O’Flaherty “was the embodiment of all that was best in public service broadcasting”.

“He had a vast range of interests and that was reflected in his career. He covered the darkest days of the Troubles with great sensitivity and as a news reader conveyed bad news to his listeners with appropriate dignity,” he added.

BBC political correspondent Gareth Gordon recalled working with Mr O’Flaherty in the BBC Belfast newsroom: “Nothing better than being on late shift with Paddy O’Flaherty in storytelling mode. Could make the phone book sound lyrical. A legend.”

BBC Northern Ireland’s head of news Kathleen Carragher said Mr O’Flaherty was simply a “fantastic” radio broadcaster.

“For decades he reported for BBC Radio Ulster on life in Northern Ireland, the highs and the lows, the people and the places, and his skilled radio reports brought the listener to the heart of any story.

“He had a deep love and understanding of Northern Ireland and it informed all his work.”