Madam Editor's decision is final -- she's bowing out
THE editor of 'The Irish Times', Geraldine Kennedy, has announced she is to step down in the autumn.
Ms Kennedy, who has held the job since 2002, informed staff yesterday that she will retire in early September when she turns 60.
It is understood she told staff she had been editor for nearly 10 years and always planned to go after the general election. But there were suggestions earlier this year that she was looking for a two-year extension to her contract, and her decision is regarded as a surprise.
Traditionally, the outgoing editor has played a role in choosing a successor but it is yet to be confirmed if Ms Kennedy will be involved. The position will be advertised in the coming weeks.
Among those tipped for the post are deputy editor Paul O'Neill, news editor Kevin O'Sullivan and 'Sunday Business Post' editor Cliff Taylor. Business editor John McManus and assistant editor and columnist Fintan O'Toole are also expected to apply.
Ms Kennedy's retirement brings to an end a tumultuous time for the struggling newspaper. It is seeking €2m of savings -- through voluntary redundancies and reduced working hours -- because of falling sales.
Known as 'Madam Editor', Ms Kennedy became the first woman to edit a national daily paper when she took up the post.
Born in 1951 in Tramore, Co Waterford, her journalistic career began at the 'Munster Express' before joining the then 'Cork Examiner'. She later made her mark as political correspondent of the 'Sunday Tribune' and the 'Sunday Press' before moving to 'The Irish Times', most memorably reporting on the divisions of Fianna Fail after Charlie Haughey became leader.
It later emerged that the Government had her phone tapped. Ms Kennedy successfully sued the State in 1987.
In the same year she was elected to the Dail for Dun Laoghaire for the new Progressive Democrats party. She lost her seat in 1989.
The tapping scandal ultimately brought down the Fianna Fail/PD government in 1992.
Ms Kennedy returned to 'The Irish Times' as public affairs correspondent, breaking a number of major stories, including the details of events at the Attorney General's office which brought down Albert Reynolds's government in 1994.
She then became the paper's political editor before succeeding Conor Brady in the top job.
Speculation will now focus on what Ms Kennedy will turn to next, with a return to politics considered a possibility. There has been speculation that she may consider a run for president but she has made no public pronouncements on the matter.