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Charlie Bird, a respected journalist with a 40-year career at national broadcaster RTÉ, passed away on Monday after battling motor neurone disease. He covered important stories both in Ireland and abroad, including the 9/11 terror attacks and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Bird played a key role in RTÉ’s coverage of the Northern Ireland peace process and was chosen by the Provisional IRA as its primary media contact in the Republic. His death was mourned by President Michael D. Higgins and Tánaiste Micheál Martin, who praised his courage and dignity in facing the disease.

After retiring from RTÉ in 2012 as Chief News Correspondent, Bird announced his motor neurone disease diagnosis publicly in October 2021. He spent his final years raising awareness of the disease and fundraising for Irish charities. Motor neurone disease affects motor nerves in the body, causing muscle degeneration and weakness that can lead to paralysis. On April 2, 2022, thousands of individuals participated in the ‘Climb with Charlie’ campaign, climbing peaks in solidarity with Bird who had previously climbed Croagh Patrick, raising €3.4 million for various charities including the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Bird’s dedication to journalism and his courage in the face of illness were highlighted by those who knew him. President Higgins called him a “truly remarkable man” and one of the outstanding journalists of his generation. Tánaiste Martin noted how Bird inspired many with his dignity and generosity of spirit. Throughout his career, Bird tackled tough assignments, including being the main RTÉ contact for the Provisional IRA for much of the 1990s, demonstrating his commitment to covering important stories and events impacting Ireland.

During Bird’s time at RTÉ, he covered significant global events such as the 9/11 attacks and the Indian Ocean tsunami, showcasing his skill and dedication as a journalist. His involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process and his role as the Provisional IRA’s main media contact in the Republic demonstrated his ability to navigate complex and sensitive stories. Bird’s retirement from RTÉ in 2012 marked the end of an illustrious career, during which he earned respect and admiration for his reporting.

In his final years, Bird used his platform to raise awareness of motor neurone disease and support charitable causes. His public announcement of his diagnosis in 2021 sparked an outpouring of support and solidarity from the community. The ‘Climb with Charlie’ campaign, which saw thousands of people participate in hikes to show solidarity with Bird, raised a significant amount for charity. Despite facing a challenging illness, Bird remained committed to raising awareness and supporting others in need, leaving a lasting impact on those who knew him.

Charlie Bird’s passing at the age of 74 left a void in Ireland’s journalism community and beyond. Survived by his wife Claire and two daughters, he was remembered as a dedicated journalist and compassionate individual who inspired many with his courage and grace in the face of adversity. His legacy lives on through his impactful reporting, charitable efforts, and the countless lives he touched throughout his career.

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