Charlie Bird

Charles "Charlie" Bird (born 9 September 1949)[2] is an Irish journalist and broadcaster. He was Chief News Correspondent with RTÉ News and Current Affairs until January 2009. He took up the role of Washington Correspondent, but prematurely returned to his earlier post in Ireland in June 2010. He retired from RTÉ in August 2012.[4]

Charlie Bird
Bird in 2007
Charles Brown Bird[1]

(1949-09-09) 9 September 1949[2]
EducationSandymount High School
Notable credit(s)
RTÉ News
Spouse(s)Mary O'Connor (1974 1998)[3]

Early life

Bird was born in Sandymount, Dublin in 1949. He was educated at Sandymount High School.[1]

In the late 1960s, Bird took an active interest in far left politics, being a member of Young Socialists. In this role, along with Tariq Ali of the International Marxist Group, he attended the funeral of Peter Graham of Saor Éire who was assassinated on 25 October 1971 in an internecine dispute. A photograph of the funeral shows Ali and Bird giving a clenched fist salute at the grave.[5] Charlie Bird was recruited into RTÉ by Eoghan Harris in the mid 1970s.[1][6]

In the early 1970s he joined Official Sinn Féin and in 1973 was their director of elections in Dublin South-Central.[7]


For many years in the 1990s, Bird was the only point of contact between RTÉ and the Provisional IRA. He witnessed at first hand the ceasefires and the subsequent twists and turns of the peace process.[1] In 1998, Bird and his colleague George Lee broke the story about tax evasion at National Irish Bank.[8]

On the international front, Bird reported on both Gulf Wars and was in Syria for the release of Brian Keenan. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from University College Dublin in 2002.[1]

Bird was attacked during the Dublin Riots of 25 February 2006, suffering a fractured cheekbone, soft tissue damage and bruising.[9] On RTÉ News broadcasts later that evening, he spoke of his personal experienceand of how his assailants had recognised him and called him an "Orange Bastard". Witnesses included Sunday Independent journalist Daniel McConnell, who reported on the event the following day. Bird's appearance on the Six O'Clock News was criticised by The Sunday Times in its edition the following day, as it felt "Bird makes himself the story". In 2008, a man pleaded guilty to violent disorder and assaulting Bird.[9]

He presented the Charlie Bird Explores series in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In this collection of documentary programmes, he visited the Amazon, the Ganges, and the Arctic.[10]

On 7 October 2008, Bird was announced as the latest person to fill the post of RTÉ News and Current Affairs Washington correspondent.[11] His first report as Washington correspondent was on the Nine O'Clock bulletin about US Airways Flight 1549.[12] RTÉ received 30 complaints after he "failed to wear a suit and tie" on Six One during coverage of the death of Ted Kennedy.[13]

Bird provided coverage from the 2010 Haiti earthquake in January 2010. A two-part documentary about his first year in the United States was broadcast later that month on RTÉ One.[14] In it he spoke of his "madness" in moving to the country and his lack of contacts and recognition in Washington DC.[15] At the end of the second programme, he announced he would vacate his Washington post.[16] Early viewing figures suggested that the two programmes got viewing averages of 473,000 and 563,000 people. RTÉ cited Bird's "popularity" when asked about the large audience.[17]

Bird returned to Ireland to take up his previous job of Chief News Correspondent with RTÉ in June 2010.[18][19] He covered a high-profile leadership challenge of Enda Kenny on his return.[20] The Washington role was filled by Richard Downes.[21] During August 2010, Bird began presenting The Marian Finucane Show.[22][23] Bird retired from RTÉ on 26 August 2012. His last broadcast was presenting The Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio 1.[24]

He presented Tonight with Vincent Browne on TV3 between 29 August and 1 September 2016.


  1. Bird, Charlie; Kevin Rafter (2006). This is Charlie Bird. Gill & Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-7171-4289-7. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  2. In his semi-autobiography This Is Charlie Bird, he states he has two birth certificates, one saying he was born 4 September 1949, the other 9 September 1949. He chooses to celebrate his birthday on 9 September.
  3. "Bird's-eye view reveals the stories behind the headlines". Irish Independent. 24 September 2006. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  4. "Charlie Bird to retire from RTÉ after 38 years". RTÉ News. 24 August 2012. Archived from the original on 25 August 2012.
  5. Ireland on Sunday, 1 October 2006
  6. Eoghan Harris (19 August 2007). "Expect to find me smiling in a serene and senatorial way". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2009.
  7. Hanley & Millar, B & S (2009). The Lost Revolution: The story of the Official IRA and the Workers Party. Ireland: Penguin Ireland. ISBN 978-1-84488-120-8.
  8. Deaglán De Bréadún (9 May 2009). "From goggle box to ballot box". The Irish Times. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  9. "Man gets 4 years for 'Love Ulster' assault on reporter". The Irish Times. 8 March 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
  10. "Charlie Bird Explores; The Arctic, The Ganges and The Amazon". RTÉ Television Programme Sales. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  11. "Charlie Bird to take up RTÉ position in Washington". The Irish Times. 8 October 2008. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  12. "Nine News: Thursday, 15 January 2009". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
  13. "Dozens protest to RTÉ after Bird dresses down at Ted Kennedy funeral". Evening Herald. 2 September 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
  14. Conor Feehan (25 January 2010). "I was mad to take on American job, admits Charlie". Evening Herald. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  15. Lynne Kelleher (24 January 2010). "Charlie Bird: I was mad to take Washington job". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  16. "Charlie Bird's long good-bye". Evening Herald. 2 February 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  17. Caitlin McBride (3 February 2010). "Viewers can't get enough of Charlie's TV whingeing". Evening Herald. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  18. "One News: 17 June 2010". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  19. "Bird set to leave Washington post". RTÉ Entertainment. 2 February 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  20. Miriam Lord (18 June 2010). "Cappuccino generation falls to those who eat dinner at midday". The Irish Times. Dublin. Retrieved 25 November 2013. Even Charlie Bird appeared.
  21. "RTÉ Announces its new Washington Correspondent". RTÉ Press Office. 26 April 2010. Archived from the original on 29 April 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  22. Quentin Fottrell (14 August 2010). "Turning the tables to drive the show". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  23. Eamon Delaney (29 August 2010). "Television news failing in its duty to question official lines". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  24. "Charlie Bird to retire from RTÉ after 38 years". RTÉ News. 24 August 2012. Archived from the original on 25 August 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
Media offices
Preceded by
Robert Shortt
RTÉ News Washington Correspondent
Succeeded by
Richard Downes
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