Northern Ireland

BBC broadcaster Paddy O'Flaherty dies

Paddy O'Flaherty Image copyright Trevor Ferris
Image caption Paddy O'Flaherty was also a keen angler as well as a talented violinist

The renowned BBC Northern Ireland broadcaster and journalist Paddy O'Flaherty has died at the age of 73.

His death followed a recent illness.

Editor of BBC Northern Ireland Radio Current Affairs and Digital News NI, Adam Smyth, has paid tribute to Mr O'Flaherty.

He described him as "one of the best radio broadcasters these islands have ever produced, a tremendous character and a man whose name was synonymous with BBC Radio Ulster".

Image copyright Diarmaid Fleming.
Image caption Away from the studio, Mr O'Flaherty was a keen angler

Keen musician

Mr O'Flaherty presented and reported on a variety of BBC Radio Ulster programmes including Good Morning Ulster and Evening Extra, as well as reading television and radio news bulletins for the corporation.

A life-long supporter of country music, he built up a huge following for his radio programmes, first on Downtown Radio and then on BBC Radio Ulster with the long-running Country Club in which many stars appeared, including Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn.

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Media captionPaddy O'Flaherty closes a 1978 episode of Make Mine Country in style

Mr O'Flaherty also presented Make Mine Country on BBC NI television.

Away from the broadcasting studio, he was also an accomplished violinist as well as a keen angler. He was the angling reporter on BBC Radio Ulster's Your Place and Mine in the 1990s.

Image copyright Diarmaid Fleming
Image caption Paddy, an accomplished violinist, will also be remembered for his impromptu sing-a-longs

Peter Johnston, Director BBC Northern Ireland, said: "Paddy was for many years a well-known face and voice across our airwaves and television screens."

Kathleen Carragher, Head of BBC News NI, said Mr O'Flaherty was "simply a fantastic radio broadcaster".

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Media captionPaddy O'Flaherty was comfortable reporting from a field, a river or a bike

She said his BBC Radio Ulster reports covered "life in Northern Ireland, the highs and the lows, the people and the places and his skilled radio reports brought the listener to the heart of any story".

"He had a deep love and understanding of Northern Ireland and it informed all his work," she added.

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Media captionA memorable moment in Paddy's broadcasting career was remembered during BBC Talkback's 30th birthday celebrations

"He will be sadly missed by all his colleagues in Broadcasting House."

Colleague and BBC National Union of Journalists (NUJ) representative Mervyn Jess said Mr O'Flaherty was "a legend on local radio and it was a privilege to have worked alongside him during his decades in the broadcasting industry".

NUJ Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley said he was "the embodiment of all that is best in public service broadcasting". Louis McConnell, a lifetime member of the NUJ in Belfast, said Mr O'Flaherty was the "last of the old-style journalists and a unique and entertaining colleague".

Image copyright Diarmaid Fleming.
Image caption Mr O'Flaherty had a passion for music

First Minister Arlene Foster said she was sorry to hear about Mr O'Flaherty's death and described him as "a gentle person".

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was a "wonderful broadcaster, fiddler and like myself, a fly fisherman".

DUP MP Ian Paisley said Mr O'Flaherty was one of the most courteous and decent people he "had the honour to meet".

Image caption UTV presenter and journalist Paul Clark worked with Mr O'Flaherty at The Irish News

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt, who was previously a broadcaster and journalist with BBC Northern Ireland and UTV, said simply: "Great voice. Great journalist. Great man."

SDLP MP Mark Durkan said Mr O'Flaherty was an engaging broadcaster and "a gentleman who made it seem easy".

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