Northern editor Tommie Gorman to retire from RTÉ in April

Broadcaster pays tribute to journalist saying he ‘earned trust of audiences, North and South’

RTÉ's Northern editor Tommie Gorman is to retire in April, the station announced on Friday, with current Belfast-based RTÉ correspondent Vincent Kearney taking over the post.

Gorman, a native of Sligo, started his journalistic career with the Western People in the late 1970s, moving to RTÉ as its northwest correspondent in 1980. He subsequently was its Europe editor before moving to Belfast as Northern editor in 2001.

His most famous interview was with Roy Keane when, despite his best efforts, he failed to persuade the footballer to return to the Ireland squad for the Japan 2002 World Cup after a row with manager Mick McCarthy in the training camp on the island of Saipan.

He was diagnosed with cancer in 1994 and over the years he has quietly and assiduously assisted and campaigned for other sufferers.

The managing director of RTÉ News and Current Affairs Jon Williams said that "for 41 years, from Brussels to Belfast, via Sligo and Saipan, Tommie Gorman has been the beating heart of RTÉ News".

"He has earned the trust of audiences, North and South – and of all sides in Northern Ireland, telling their story, sharing his insights, and championing RTÉ's role as an all-island news organisation," he said.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “Tommie Gorman is the quintessential professional who earned the trust of all who dealt with him.”

“He understood better than most the possibilities that politics offered and the compromises required to make progress. He brought us the daily news of an unfolding peace process. He was an essential part of that process,” he said.

First Minister Arlene Foster said Gorman always encouraged others facing difficult circumstances following his own public health challenges. She said he tried to understand what made political leaders like her tick.

“I will miss Tommie incredibly from the political world but of course I do consider him a friend and that will continue and I wish him and [his wife] Ceara and all of the family many happy years of retirement,” she said.

‘End of an era’

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in a tweet wrote, "Tommie, we'll miss you. It's the end of an era, of award-winning reporting on EU affairs, and ground-breaking, insightful analysis of Northern Irish politics. The hand of history was on your shoulder. Enjoy your retirement. You deserve every second of it."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood in paying tribute said Gorman had engaged in constructive as opposed to "gotcha" journalism.

“Tommie has given decades of selfless service to the people of this island, reporting on some of the worst aspects of our recent history, but always seeking to tell human stories about the endless possibilities of our peace,” he said.

“I have always been particularly grateful for his commitment to telling the stories of people in Derry and I know the people of this city hold him in high regard as a result,” he added.

Mr Eastwood added, "Tommie richly deserves a happy and healthy retirement with his family. And I hope, when the current crisis is over, he can enjoy swapping cold, wet nights outside Stormont for the Showgrounds chasing more lost causes with his beloved Sligo Rovers. "

Vincent Kearney, from Lurgan in Co Armagh, who takes over the role, previously worked as home affairs correspondent for BBC Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland correspondent with The Sunday Times and also worked for the Belfast Telegraph for nine years.

He joined RTÉ two years ago as Northern correspondent.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times