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Pioneering RTÉ journalist Rodney Rice (76) dies after short illness


Rodney Rice. Picture: RTÉ

Rodney Rice. Picture: RTÉ

Rodney Rice. Picture: RTÉ

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Michéal Martin and RTÉ director general Dee Forbes have led tributes following the death of pioneering journalist and charity executive Rodney Rice.

Mr Rice died following a short illness. He was 76.

A native of Whiteabbey, Co Antrim, he worked as a reporter, producer and presenter with RTÉ for more than 40 years and was best known for presenting RTÉ Radio One’s Saturday View show.

He also produced and presented RTÉ’s Worlds Apart series for 23 years which focused on problems facing people living in the developing world and saw him travel extensively throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America.

He was banned from South Africa for a decade in 1981 for a programme he made about the apartheid regime, of which he was a vocal critic.  During his final broadcast in July 2009, Mr Rice said he was privileged to have been able to voice the concerns of the world’s poorest people to an Irish audience through the series.

Following his retirement that year, he worked with international development charities such as Trócaire and Action Aid, of which he served as chairman.

After his first stint as a reporter with the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Rice joined the national broadcaster in 1968 at the age of 24 and worked as a reporter for the television current affairs programme 7 Days. He then presented RTÉ Radio One’s Here and Now programme for nine years before anchoring Saturday View for the next 25 years.

The President said: “The news of the death of Rodney Rice, broadcaster, journalist and producer, will have been heard with sadness by all those with an interest in politics and global justice, but in particular by all those to whom he introduced a world of freedom struggles, inequality, famine and forced migrations. That aspect of his four decades of work for RTÉ, was pioneering work. His was one of the earliest, bravest and most consistent voices in opposing apartheid in South Africa.

President higgins said Mr Rice’s work shaped RTÉ’s current affairs broadcasting.

He added: “Above all else, generations of Irish people and educators will be aware of how much they appreciated his work in bringing the voices of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people into Irish homes, through his reporting in the ‘Worlds Apart’ series, and through his support for the work of many of Ireland’s development organisations, which continued even in retirement.”

The President concluded: “Síocháin shíoraí dó. Leis na n-haingial go luífidh sé.”

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“Saddened to hear of the passing of Rodney Rice,” the Taoiseach said in a tweet.

“A brilliant political reporter, presenter and producer, he made shows like Saturday View his own. He leaves a lasting legacy in international aid too in work with Trócaire and Action Aid. My thoughts go to all his family today.”

Ms Forbes said:
“He was a journalistic pioneer, with a unique grasp of global issues alongside a forensic knowledge of current affairs closer to home.

 Our sympathies to Rodney’s wife Margo, and his children, Cian, Caitriona and Eoghan.”

 Peter Woods, RTE’s Head of Radio One, also paid tribute. He said.

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