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Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh replaces Mary Kennedy as the new face of RTÉ's 'Nationwide'

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Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh is joining the RTÉ Nationwide team.

Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh is joining the RTÉ Nationwide team.

Outspoken: Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh once said she thought she had no future at RTE. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Outspoken: Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh once said she thought she had no future at RTE. Photo: Gerry Mooney

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Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh is joining the RTÉ Nationwide team.

Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh will take over as the new face of RTÉ's Nationwide, the Sunday Independent can exclusively reveal.

The flame-haired presenter will replace Mary Kennedy, who left RTÉ last month after celebrating her 65th birthday.

Bláthnaid will now report from events around the country for one of the station's most popular shows, replacing Mary who has been the face of the programme for the past 15 years.

v's run will begin in the new season in January 2020. She will report alongside presenter Anne Cassin.

Recently Mary explained her future on air was up to RTÉ. She told the RTÉ Guide it is up to the broadcaster whether she stays on or not, but right now, after being asked if she is saying goodbye, she said: "Officially, yes."

"I'd love to stay but it's up to RTÉ if I go or not," she explained. "All I can say is that I love what I do and I would love it to continue."

In a separate interview she said: "I love Nationwide. I just love all of those occasions.

"I am a Dub but I have a great sense of the richness of life outside the Pale.

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Joy: Departing presenter Mary Kennedy spoke of her love for 'Nationwide.' Photo: David Conachy

Joy: Departing presenter Mary Kennedy spoke of her love for 'Nationwide.' Photo: David Conachy

Joy: Departing presenter Mary Kennedy spoke of her love for 'Nationwide.' Photo: David Conachy

"It is three nights a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday and it is a joy."

The appointment may come as a welcome surprise to Blathnaid, who said in 2016 she didn't believe there would be a future in RTÉ for people like her.

Asked about her unvarnished honesty she said: "I appeal to you because I'm honest.

"I don't think there is a future for people like me in RTÉ. I care too much."

Last year the fiery redhead spoke out to call on the broadcaster to put more women presenters on TV.

She said: "We're a bit top-heavy with our male hosts, so hopefully there's a nice gender balance in our autumn schedule.

"We have Ray D'Arcy, Ryan Tubridy, Brendan O'Connor and Tommy Tiernan now, that's four. They used to say women love looking at male hosts on the television.

"I don't necessarily love it. I rate how good a presenter they are."

Bláthnaid  joined RTÉ in 1990 and after a varied career in broadcasting, which has seen her present young people's TV as well as current affairs.

Celebrating 25 years on air last year, Nationwide is watched by an average of 250,000 people every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7pm on RTE One.

Sunday Independent


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RTE presenter Mary Kennedy. Picture: David Conachy Gallery