Shropshire Star

Acclaimed RTE journalist Tommie Gorman dies at 68

The Sligo native was northern editor at the Irish national broadcaster for 20 years.

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Undated handout photo issued by RTE of the broadcaster's former northern editor Tommie Gorman

Acclaimed former RTE journalist Tommie Gorman has died at the age of 68.

Gorman, from Sligo, worked for RTE for more than 40 years and was its northern editor at the time of his retirement in 2021.

The married father of two had been diagnosed with cancer in 1994.

Gorman was RTE’s Europe editor before moving to Belfast in 2001.

He famously interviewed Roy Keane after the footballer’s row with manager Mick McCarthy in the Republic of Ireland team’s Japan 2002 World Cup training camp on the island of Saipan.

Gorman also tracked down poet Seamus Heaney on a Greek island after he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In a statement, Gorman’s family paid tribute to the late broadcaster.

“Tommie was a cherished husband, father, brother and friend whose innate kindness and generosity of spirit touched the lives of all who knew him,” it said.

“His memory will forever remain in our hearts and his spirit will continue to guide and inspire us every day.”

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins said Tommie Gorman will be remembered “as one of the outstanding public service broadcasters of his generation”.

“Over more than 40 years reporting for RTE, he was a widely trusted and deeply insightful commentator on the North-West, Brussels and, perhaps most notably, Northern Ireland, where his incisive and well-informed commentary brought news of critical developments for twenty years,” Mr Higgins said.

“Throughout that time, Tommie was respected by all sides of the political spectrum and was a trusted source of information for the public during challenging years, the fostering of peace, and all that was achieved in Anglo-Irish relations over that time.

“A naturally empathetic person, Tommie’s courageous and generous work with cancer survivors leaves a very significant legacy which I hope will bring comfort to his family and all those who knew him.

“In speaking and writing about his own experiences, he brought a greater public awareness and understanding of the conditions and the treatments available for them.

“As anyone who ever met Tommie will know, he was a tireless champion of Sligo, and reflecting his lifelong love of soccer, of Sligo Rovers. Whether talking about the Bit o’ Red or Tottenham Hotspur, Tommie always knew every minute detail of the clubs and their fortunes.

“In a career renowned for being the first on the spot with key developments, Tommie will of course always be remembered for his interview with Roy Keane following his departure from Saipan and going to Greece to interview Seamus Heaney following the announcement that he was to receive the Nobel Prize.

“May I express my deepest condolence to Tommie’s wife Ceara, to his children Moya and Joe, and to all his family, colleagues and many friends.”

Irish premier Simon Harris said he was “profoundly shocked and saddened” at the news, and extended his commiserations to Mr Gorman’s family, as well as his former colleagues in RTE and The Currency and in Belfast.

“Tommie was a journalist of enormous standing who carried out his job and duty to report fairly and accurately with the utmost professionalism.

“In a world of instant and rolling news, Tommie Gorman was invited into people’s homes night after night to give fair, impartial and in-depth analysis of one of the most precious things on our island – our peace process.

“To say he took this responsibility seriously is an understatement and as a result the Irish people trusted Tommie. If Tommie Gorman said it, then it happened.

“Tommie loved his work but was also so proud of his family and they were always interwoven in any conversation I had with him about politics or life in general.

“To Tommie’s wife Ceara and his children Joe and Moya as well as his wider family, I am so sorry for your loss and please know that Tommie always reminded those in political office how important family was.”

He said “everybody is in a state of shock” at the news, and that he had met Gorman at an event with Minister Paschal Donohoe last week.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Michelle O’Neill said she was “deeply saddened” by Gorman’s death.

“An award-winning journalist over many decades, he was invested both professionally and personally in our peace process and in reconciling everyone who shares this island,” she said.

“Today, we have lost a fantastic journalist and a good friend, and his family has lost a loving husband and devoted father.”

Mr Donohoe also offered his condolences in the Dail chamber in the wake of Gorman’s death.

“I only met him last Monday night and I can’t believe this news. I hope we’ll have an opportunity to say more at a more appropriate point,” he said.

RTE director general Kevin Bakhurst said he was shocked at Gorman’s sudden death.

“Tommie was not only a great friend and colleague to me, and to so many in RTE and beyond, he was also a journalist of outstanding pedigree, integrity and incredible tenacity,” he said.

“As RTE’s northern editor he was the voice of an era as that era itself transformed from violence to peace.

“Tommie guided us through the intricacies with colour, command and panache. He was a storyteller journalist like no other. I am so deeply sorrowed by his loss and extend my personal sympathies to Tommie’s family.”

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