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Former RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird dies following illness

Former RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird has died at the age of 74 following a long battle with motor neuron disease.

One of RTÉ’s most renowned news correspondents, Charlie Bird reported on some of the biggest stories in Ireland and internationally during his 40-year career with the national broadcaster including the Stardust fire, the National Irish Bank tax avoidance scandal, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 in the US, and the 2004 Indian ocean tsunami.

Mr Bird joined RTÉ in 1972 to work as a researcher before later moving to the newsroom.

One of his earliest assignments was the Stardust fire in Artane in Dublin in 1981 when 48 young people died in the nightclub blaze.

In 1984, he was sent sent to report on the arrest and imprisonment of Fr Niall O’ Brien, an Irish Columban Missionary priest falsely accused and detained in the Philippines on multiple murder charges.

In the 1990s Mr Bird was at the forefront of the reporting of the Northern Ireland peace process when, from 1993 onwards, the Provisional IRA chose him as their primary media contact in the Republic.

In 2006 he fronted a news series about deaths and injuries on Irish roads. The award-winning reports shone a spotlight on rising road deaths and helped instigate legislative change in the area.

His final RTÉ broadcast was in August 2012 when he filled in as a presenter on the Marian Finucane show on RTÉ Radio 1.

Charlie Bird was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in October 2021. He spoke publicly about his illness on radio, TV and in the newspapers.

On 2 April 2002, thousands of people climbed peaks around Ireland and abroad in solidarity with Mr Bird as he made a personal pilgrimage up Croagh Patrick as part of a ‘Climb with Charlie’ campaign.

The campaign raised €3.4m for a number of charities including the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association and Pieta.

Mr Bird died yesterday following his lengthy battle with motor neuron disease.

He is survived by his wife Claire, daughters Orla and Nessa, grandchildren Abigail, Charlie, Edward, Harriet and Hugo, and his three brothers.

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