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Dáil hears tributes to former RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird

The Taoiseach has led tributes to the late RTÉ journalist and broadcaster Charlie Bird.

Mr Bird died at the age of 74 following a long battle with motor neurone disease last week.

Leo Varadkar said Mr Bird said he was “an extraordinary and animated journalist, who really brought stories to life…and someone who in his later years showed extraordinary courage and extraordinary bravery in the campaigns he led”,

He said he would be sorely missed by everyone in Dáil Éireann and by his colleagues in the media and RTÉ.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said she also wanted to join in recognising “the legend that was Charlie Bird”.

She said for four decades his voice was to be heard across the most important news stories of our time.

Charlie Bird was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in October 2021

Ms McDonald said his coverage of the Stardust tragedy was a standout in his long career, along with his role as the RTÉ contact to the IRA during this time.

She paid tribute to his courage and humanity when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and said his selfless campaign, his charity work and his resilience were inspirational.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said on a “day like today in Leinster House”, referring to Mr Varadkar’s announcement he is to step down as Taoiseach, was “where Charlie Bird would be at his best”.

He described Mr Bird as a dogged intrepid reporter and paid tribute to how he managed his illness in later life.

Speaking on behalf of Fianna Fáil, Minister for Education Norma Foley said Mr Bird was “an enormous presence” who could turn up anywhere nationally or internationally and was “someone we associated with the pursuit of justice.”

She said he would be remembered with “gratitude and affection”.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik described him as “a journalist of immense tenacity, courage and conviction” and paid tribute for his activism for both the marriage equality tribunal and for awareness of motor neurone disease.

Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns said he was a true journalist and said that even at the most difficult time for him, he was still raising awareness and informing the public about motor neurone disease.

Richard Boyd Barrett from People Before Profit expressed his condolences to Mr Bird’s wife and family.

He said the Stardust families would always be grateful to Mr Bird for his support. He said Mr Bird personified the best of public service broadcasting.

On behalf of the Rural Independent Group, Mattie McGrath said Mr Bird would be missed and if he was still alive the news about the Taoiseach’s resignation would have been known last night or early this morning.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl paid tribute to Mr Bird’s work in covering the end of apartheid in South Africa, the September 11th attacks in 2001 and the 2004 Indonesian tsunami.

He also pointed to the practical benefits he brought about by raising €3m for research into motor neurone disease and for Pieta House

He offered condolences to his wife and family and called fellow TDs to stand for a minute in silence as a mark of respect to Mr Bird.

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