'Gender is irrelevant here' - Newstalk unveils strong female weekend line-up
Newstalk managing editor Patricia Monahan has said that all women at the station are there on merit and gender is "irrelevant" to her.
She was speaking as the station announced its new weekend schedule yesterday which features a strong female line-up including Irish Independent columnist Sinéad Ryan, Andrew Gilligan, Susan Keogh, Clare McKenna and Jessica Kelly.
In the past, the station found itself in hot water when it was criticised for replacing Sarah McInerney and her co-host Chris Donoghue with Ivan Yates and his show 'The Hard Shoulder', leaving no female voices on the primetime weekday schedule.
Ms Monahan said a lack of female representation on Newstalk "hasn't been true for a long time now".
"We've Ciara Kelly at lunchtime now playing a blinder and has a bigger audience than we ever had in that slot. And we've Andrea Gilligan on from 6am," she said.
As for the new weekend shows, which feature Sinéad Ryan with 'The Home Show', Susan Keogh taking the mantle on 'Newstalk Breakfast', Andrea Gilligan hosting 'Between the Lines', Clare McKenna fronting 'Alive and Kicking' and Jessica Kelly presenting 'Tech Talk', Ms Monahan said they were all there on merit.
"There's a good compliment of women on this schedule but they're all there because they are capable of presenting the shows that we feel are right for our audience.
"Their gender is irrelevant to me to be honest," she said.
"It's probably a natural evolution for the station as it is for every organisation in the country, that there would be more women apparent.
"That's brilliant that that's a by-product, but they're there on merit because they're the right people to present these shows for our audience."
Elsewhere in the schedule Gavan Reilly will take over 'On the Record' and business editor Vincent Wall will present a new show, 'Taking Stock'.
Among the schedule casualties are Susan Cahill's 'Talking Books' and Henry McKean's 'Under the Covers' which both aired on Sunday nights. Mr McKean will continue to work across weekday shows.
"There are difficult conversations in every workplace," said Ms Monahan referring to the departures. "Everyone's an adult. Everyone knows the nature of the business. We make the decisions that are right for the station and everybody understands that."
The new schedule begins this Saturday.