Martina is recalled to newsroom as delighted Paul sent to Oireachtas
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.
Role: Martina Fitzgerald is no longer RTÉ political correspondent. Left: Paul Cunningham’s tweet
Appointed: Paul Cunningham