Sunday 25 September 2016

Pregnant RTE presenter Daraine had to turn down Channel 4 over Zika fears in Rio

Published 27/08/2016 | 10:22

Despite losing her fingers and feet to meningitis when aged 16, Daraine Mulvihill has cared out a successful career in broadcasting on both sides of the Irish Sea. Photo: David Conachy.
Despite losing her fingers and feet to meningitis when aged 16, Daraine Mulvihill has cared out a successful career in broadcasting on both sides of the Irish Sea. Photo: David Conachy.
Daniel O’Donnell photobombs the RTÉ ladies, back row from left: Louise O’Neill, Seana Kerslake, Daraine Mulvihill, Jenny Dixon, Dr Eva, Dr Ciara Kelly. Front: Kathryn Thomas, Claire Byrne, Vogue Williams and Miriam O’Callaghan. Photo: Collins
Daraine and Keith Lowther on their wedding day.

RTE’s new Paralympic presenter Daraine Mulvihill has said fears over the Zika virus convinced her to take a job in Dublin rather than travel to Rio.

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The reporter and researcher in RTE’s TV centre is six months’ pregnant and told the Herald she had to turn down Channel 4’s request to present their Paralympic coverage.

The in-demand broadcaster was approached by both RTE and the British station to join their presenting team for the Games next month, having worked for them in the London 2012 Paralympics.

But it was an easy choice for the 32-year-old in the end, given the health advice against pregnant women travelling to Brazil.

“I’m going to be studio-based with RTE, which is great. I think RTE is sending only two reporters over, whereas Channel 4 is sending everyone over to Rio, as they’ve a bigger budget,” she said. 

“The guidelines released by the World Health Organisation said that anyone who’s pregnant shouldn’t go to Rio, so that helped make up my mind.

“There’s also something nice about cheering on the Irish athletes, rather than Team GB.”

She also said it was “awful” that the funding to this year’s Paralympics has been cut, with poor ticket sales from this year’s Olympic event compounding the problem.

Daniel O’Donnell photobombs the RTÉ ladies, back row from left: Louise O’Neill, Seana Kerslake, Daraine Mulvihill, Jenny Dixon, Dr Eva, Dr Ciara Kelly. Front: Kathryn Thomas, Claire Byrne, Vogue Williams and Miriam O’Callaghan. Photo: Collins
Daniel O’Donnell photobombs the RTÉ ladies, back row from left: Louise O’Neill, Seana Kerslake, Daraine Mulvihill, Jenny Dixon, Dr Eva, Dr Ciara Kelly. Front: Kathryn Thomas, Claire Byrne, Vogue Williams and Miriam O’Callaghan. Photo: Collins

“I don’t think it’s going to have the same magic as London had,” she said.

“I think everyone saw that with the Olympics, from all the controversies and the time difference was also an issue.” 

The 2012 Paralympics saw Ireland bring home an impressive haul of 16 medals.

While Daraine doesn’t think we’ll replicate that year’s success, she reckons we have strong medal hopes with record-breaking sprint runner Jason Smyth and middle-distance runner Michael McKillop, both former gold medallists. 

The DCU communications graduate has been steadily working her way up the ranks in the media industry for the past number of years.

But Daraine has overcome more adversity than most, given that she’s survived meningitis after contracting the life-threatening disease when she was 16.

She had to have both her legs amputated as well as losing part of her arm. She was so ill at one stage that she was given the last rites.

Yet she has not let what happened hold her back in any way and has been hailed as one of RTE’s rising stars.

Daraine, who was also the winner of the 2001 People of the Year award, said she’s now looking forward to welcoming her first baby with hubbie Keith Lowther, whom she married in January 2015.

Their little girl is due in November.

Herald

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