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Bob Collins

MARTIN FITZPATRICK IN THE middle of last year Bob Collins moved from the intense glare of the RTE spotlight in which he had spent most of his career and disappeared up North. He became head of the Northern Ireland Equality Commission with a pledge to be "completely open and objective".

Since then there has been scarcely a word from him apart from chairing the Merriman Summer School last year. In the North the public appear to have heard little more from the former director general of RTE.

Bob Collins was born in Killarney, Co Kerry, and reared in Adare, Co Limerick. He joined RTE in his late 20s as secretary to the Authority, having formerly worked in an administrative job at TCD.

He hit all the high spots in RTE becoming director of TV in 1986, director of corporate affairs in 1993 and assistant director general under Joe Barry in 1995. Having got the main job after Barry left, he had to help steer RTE out of its worst financial crisis.

However, his achievements included a major role in the launch of TG4 and he had a leadership role in the start-up of Lyric FM. His commitment to the Irish language was also a feature of his time at the State broadcaster.

He also did some unusual things there, like forgoing a decent slice of his salary when RTE's financial crisis was biting deepest and when jobs were being lost.

But that was only after he was deemed to have made the critical mistake of accepting a 20 per cent bonus on top of his 2000 salary.

He is clearly taking time to read himself into the key Northern job.

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