Martina is re­called to news­room as de­lighted Paul sent to Oireach­tas

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Se­nan Molony Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

Un­der­stood to be tak­ing le­gal ad­vice ‘A con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional’

RTÉ re­porter Martina Fitzger­ald has been re­placed as po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent by the broad­caster.

Paul Cun­ning­ham will take over the role – with Ms Fitzger­ald re­called to the news­room.

Ms Fitzger­ald just re­cently au­thored a best­selling book – about the problems faced by women in the po­lit­i­cal work­place.

It is un­der­stood the jour­nal­ist is tak­ing le­gal ad­vice in re­la­tion to the change in her role.

Neil O’Gor­man, RTÉ’s cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager, con­firmed to the Ir­ish Daily Mail last night: ‘Martina Fitzger­ald will con­tinue re­port­ing as a jour­nal­ist for RTÉ News. She will be a news re­porter.’

Mr O’Gor­man in­di­cated she will be re­port­ing on ‘news top­ics’ and will based in the news­room.

Ms Fitzger­ald de­clined to com­ment when she was con­tacted by the Mail last night.

In re­cent years, RTÉ in­tro­duced a sys­tem of re­bid­ding for cor­re­spon­dent con­tracts af­ter com­ple­tion of a typ­i­cal five-year term.

Ap­point­ments are nom­i­nally for two years, with an ex­ten­sion granted for three years.

Speak­ing to the Mail last night, an in­sider at the broad­caster said: ‘Peo­ple are shocked. No­body ex­pected this.

‘Martina is a con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional who al­ways pro­duced work of the high­est qual­ity and put in very long hours.’

The sta­tion made no men­tion of her what­so­ever when it is­sued a press re­lease yesterday af­ter­noon, declar­ing: ‘RTÉ News is pleased to an­nounce the ap­point­ment of Paul Cun­ning­ham as po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent.’

Mr Cun­ning­ham tweeted that he was ‘de­lighted’ to be ap­pointed to the role.

The fa­ther of three from Dublin pre­vi­ously held the role of pro­gramme ed­i­tor of The Week In Au­thor: Martina and Heather Pol­i­tics for four years and has worked as both Europe cor­re­spon­dent and en­vi­ron­ment cor­re­spon­dent with RTÉ.

He oc­ca­sion­ally ap­peared as a pre­sen­ter on RTÉ Ra­dio 1’s Morn­ing Ire­land, News At One and This Week, and was pre­vi­ously a pre­sen­ter of RTÉ’s One To One tele­vi­sion in­ter­view se­ries.

There is no sug­ges­tion he is not qual­i­fied for his new role. How­ever the fail­ure of Ms Fitzger­ald to hold on to the ti­tle caused a flurry of com­ment on the Mon­trose cam­pus.

A col­league said: ‘She [Martina] was un­be­liev­ably ded­i­cated to her job. For this to hap­pen to her, par­tic­u­larly in the run-up to Christ­mas, is just dev­as­tat­ing.

‘Peo­ple can’t be­lieve it. This non­re­newal of a staff con­tract has never hap­pened be­fore.’

Yesterday morn­ing, Ms Fitzger­ald was in Mon­aghan pro­mot­ing her book, Madam Politi­cian, about suc­cess­ful women in Ir­ish pol­i­tics and the dis­crim­i­na­tion and dis­mis­sive­ness they en­coun­tered along the way.

She was in­tro­duced to an au­di­ence by Busi­ness Minister Heather Humphreys as ‘RTÉ’s po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent’.

An hour later Mr Cun­ning­ham was for­mally an­nounced as now hold­ing that role.

Ms Fitzger­ald tweeted a pho­to­graph of her­self with the minister, say­ing it was a lovely morn­ing to be in Mon­aghan and that she was ‘proud to be au­thor of a num­ber one best­seller and trusted to tell the sto­ries of women min­is­ters and two for­mer fe­male pres­i­dents’. Her so­cial me­dia ac­counts con­tin­ued to de­scribe her as RTÉ’s po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent.

Ms Fitzger­ald spent five years in the job, and is also a for­mer au­di­tor of the UCD Pol­i­tics So­ci­ety.

Based in Le­in­ster House, she has re­ported on many ma­jor po­lit­i­cal sto­ries for RTÉ, in­clud­ing the 2011 and 2016 gen­eral elec­tions and the rise and fall of taoisigh.

She has worked for RTÉ since 2001, re­port­ing from Ja­pan and Tan­za­nia, as well as cover­ing the death of John Paul II and the 2005 Lon­don bomb­ings.

se­[email protected]­ly­mail.ie

Role: Martina Fitzger­ald is no longer RTÉ po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent. Left: Paul Cun­ning­ham’s tweet

Ap­pointed: Paul Cun­ning­ham

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