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'Jesus, I've lived the dream, it has been great': Veteran RTÉ journalist Tommie Gorman is retiring

RTÉ Managing Director Jon Williams called Gorman “the beating heart of RTÉ News”.

Tommie Gorman on this evening's Late Late Show
Tommie Gorman on this evening's Late Late Show
Image: RTÉ

Updated Jan 29th 2021, 10:31 PM

VETERAN BROADCASTER TOMMIE Gorman is to retire after four decades as a reporter with RTÉ.

The announcement was made earlier today, with Gorman being praised in many quarters including from the Taoiseach who described him as an essential part of the peace process.

Speaking on tonight’s The Late Late Show, Gorman said that the time has “gone by too fast” and “has gone in a flash”. 

“Driving into this place this evening, it was like when I came here for an interview… My mother and father drove me up in 1980, I just love this place. I have had a fantastic time.

“I’m also very conscious that I’m getting older and if you are to be in any way true to how generous people in here have been to me, you have to acknowledge there’s another generation coming up.

” I go with a good heart and I’m also very thankful that I got this far without screwing up.  I started a job in a new newspaper in Ballina and I have been going at it for 44 years and I’ve had the time. Jesus, I’ve lived the dream, it has been great.”

He was asked about politics in the North, and said it’s inevitable that a border poll will take place at some point. 

Gorman also discussed how he worked while ill with cancer in the 1990s.

He said: “I think it was a wonderful distraction. I think it gave me a sense of purpose, it gave me a sense of dignity, it gave me a reason. With my illness I have a liver with lots of cancer on it, it’s still there, I still get treatment and I take an injection every month.

“The fact that work provided me with the distraction helped me to stay alive. That’s one of the questions I ask myself, about what happens when that goes. I don’t know what I’m going to do… you know the Joni Mitchell line ‘let the wind carry me’ I’m just going to see.”

Tributes

Paying tribute to Gorman, Managing Director of RTÉ News & Current Affairs, Jon Williams said: “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 RTE’s role as an all-island news organisation.”

In a statement this afternoon, Taoiseach Micheál Martin praised Gorman as the “quintessential professional who earned the trust of all who dealt with him”. 

“He brought us the daily news of an unfolding peace process,” the Taoiseach said. “He was an essential part of that process. His versatility and wisdom always shone through.

“His knowledge of detail and command of his subjects was unequalled. He has left a powerful journalistic legacy underlining the centrality of accuracy, humanity and trust which were his hallmarks.”

The former UK Secretary of Northern Ireland Julian Smith MP, said that he was “very sorry indeed to hear this news”.

“Tommie is not only a reporter of news but passionately committed to the island of Ireland & its people – my experience was that he is also an extremely rapid Guinness drinker for which he will now have more time – what a loss for RTÉ.”

BBC News’ Mark Simpson said: “Going to miss RTÉ northern editor Tommie Gorman when he leaves Belfast & retires in April. The best journalist of his generation. But more than that, a kind, generous & inspirational human being. (Even on the 5-a-side football pitch.) Best wishes, Tommie.”

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RTÉ have announced that its Northern Correspondent Vincent Kearney will replace Gorman as its Northern Editor this spring.

Before RTÉ, Kearney worked as a reporter and producer for daily news and documentaries at the BBC including four years with BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme.

Prior to joining RTÉ he was Home Affairs Correspondent for BBC Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Correspondent with The Sunday Times and also worked for the Belfast Telegraph for nine years.

Kearney is a native of west Belfast but has spent the last 31 years living with his wife Louise and family in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

Jon Williams said: “Few know and understand Northern Ireland better than Vincent Kearney. A gifted storyteller, three decades of reporting Northern Ireland have given Vincent insights and authority in a place where trust and credibility matter more than most.”

Commenting on his new role, Kearney said: “ I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to take on a role that is without doubt one of the best jobs in journalism on the island of Ireland.

“Tommie Gorman will leave behind an amazing legacy, and huge shoes to fill. I am delighted to be the person to be given the opportunity to fill them.”

With reporting from Sean Murray

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