Bird flies the nest after 38 years

Iconic RTÉ reporter Charlie Bird has announced his retirement after 38 years on the airwaves — but insists he wants “new challenges” in an apparent push for bids from rival stations.

The star, who rose to prominence in the 1980s but divided opinion in his final RTÉ years, will sign off after his guest-presenter spot on the Marian Finucane Show tomorrow.

This means the 62-year-old’s retirement package will be based on his estimated six-figure salary before the latest pay cuts were implemented at the station.

Speaking before the 9pm RTÉ website announcement, Mr Bird said he has yet to decide on his future.

However, the journalist — who insisted, “I’m not getting a huge amount of money because I’m going early” — is adamant he will not disappear from the airwaves completely.

While not specifically suggesting a move to a rival broadcaster like that mooted for ex-RTÉ newsreader Anne Doyle, who has been the subject of growing interest from TV3, Mr Bird said: “At the moment I have no idea [what work he is planning]. That’s for the future. I want new challenges and I think I have plenty in me.” Mr Bird added he was not retiring from work entirely, “under any circumstances”.

Since the 1980s the often-parodied 62-year-old — who joined RTÉ in 1974 — has been an iconic figure in Montrose for his unique brand of reporting.

However, he has divided opinion like few other news reporters for his career-high scoops and his equally notable personalised stance.

During the height of the Troubles Mr Bird was vital to reports on the ceasefire negotiations which resulted in the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

His reporting also included Mary Robinson’s groundbreaking 1990 presidential victory and, alongside George Lee, the National Irish Bank scandal. This involved then Fianna Fáil TD Beverly Cooper Flynn, the daughter of Mahon Tribunal-shamed ex-TD Pádraig Flynn, selling offshore life assurance products — effectively allowing tax avoidance.

Mr Bird was ridiculed by some after more recent broadcasts, including his Charlie Bird Explores documentaries between 2006 and 2008 in the Amazon, Ganges and Arctic.

He was also criticised for allegedly making himself the story after the “Love Ulster” Dublin riots in Oct 2005, when he went on air to say he had been assaulted.

In 2008 Mr Bird was appointed to the coveted RTÉ Washington correspondent role. He returned to Ireland after a year for “personal reasons”.

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