Wednesday 20 November 2019

Sharon bridges the gender pay gap but wants a move from news

Sharon Ni Bheolain
Sharon Ni Bheolain
Eileen Dunne with RTE newsroom colleague Brian Dobson last year
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Two months after the gender pay gap controversy erupted at RTE, station bosses are still in a deep quandary over the revamp of TV news.

The Sunday Independent revealed eight weeks ago that Bryan Dobson is moving to Morning Ireland, but uncertainty still hangs over the RTE newsroom.

Mr Dobson will make the move to Morning Ireland on October 30. It is still not known who will take his place. Claire Byrne, Ray Kennedy and David McCullagh have all now been ruled out of the running, the Sunday Independent understands.

It is believed newscaster Sharon Ni Bheolain has been asked to stay on and has received concrete assurances on equal pay and status.

But the Sunday Independent has learned she is anxious for a change - though still wants to stay with the national broadcaster.

Both newscasters in the new line-up will now share the bulletin and there will be no lead anchor.

The news comes after the Sunday Independent revealed the pay gap between Mr Dobson and his female co-anchor controversially stood at up to €80,000 a year.

But questions still remain over the future of Ms Ni Bheolain in the newscasting role on the Six One News.

The newscaster has made it known she would like to move on. This weekend a source told the newspaper: "It's well known in the newsroom that Sharon has been asking for a change for the last few years.

"For a long time she has been asking management to release her from Six One newsreader duties. She has made it known she wants to step away from the cameras after 23 years in the spotlight.

"She would prefer to remain behind the camera for a while, to concentrate on features and documentaries. She has been in the same position for over two decades, so naturally she is longing for change."

As far back as 2013, Sharon gave an interview to the RTE Guide in which the presenter said that, while she enjoyed working in TV news, she was "ready for something new".

Asked if she would be presenting the Six One for life, she was candid in her desire for change: "It's been a very enjoyable experience, but I'm looking for something new."

An RTE spokesperson said the station does not comment on individual pay. On Ni Bheolain's role, they said: "Sharon continues to present the news. Anything beyond that would be speculation."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Independent has also learned that so far no suitable candidate from RTE's news and current affairs department has agreed to take on Mr Dobson's vacant presenting position.

Mr Dobson is among RTE's top 10 earners, with an annual salary of €195,816 in 2014. Other high earners at the taxpayer-funded national broadcaster include Ryan Tubridy, Joe Duffy and Derek Mooney.

Sunday Independent

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