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Charlie Bird confirms he has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease

Bird spent 38 years at RTÉ and was its chief reporter and Washington correspondent

Image: Seamus Costelloe

VETERAN BROADCASTER CHARLIE Bird has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

The former RTÉ chief news reporter and Washington correspondent posted the news of his diagnosis on Twitter this morning.

He wrote, “Recently I spoke about issues with my voice. I now know why. I have been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Thanks to all my pals for their amazing support. And the kindness from so many people. Stay safe everyone.”

The broadcaster initially tweeted in September about having to decline media interviews because of speech issues.

“Over the past four months, I’ve had major issues with my speech,” he wrote – adding that he had yet to receive a clear diagnosis in spite of a series of medical tests.

Speaking to Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s Liveline today, Bird said “people get knocked every day, and I’ve got a knock in the last few days. It’s hard to cope with, but I’m dealing with it.”

Like everything else, “you have to face reality,” he added.

“I was told on a couple of occasions that the medical people didn’t believe I had Motor Neurone (Disease),” Bird told Duffy, adding “I knew in my heart of hearts there was something serious there.”

Chief reporter 

Bird joined the state broadcaster in 1974 and became a household name across Ireland during his decades at RTÉ. 

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He was later named chief news reporter and spent a period in the US as RTÉ’s Washington correspondent. He retired in 2012 after 38 years at Montrose. 

In more recent years he has been involved in various broadcasting projects, including fronting a documentary series for RTÉ revisiting some of the major stories he worked on at the national broadcaster. 

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) affects the brain and nerves, eventually causing the muscles to weaken and waste. There is no known cure, though symptoms can be managed.

MND is rare and can affect how a person walks, breathes, eats, speaks and even thinks, though not everyone with the disease will have all symptoms.  

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