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Whelan to fill Lee's shoes in RTE rejig

RTE's European Editor Sean Whelan is to leave Brussels to take up George Lee's former economic portfolio.

The Herald can reveal that the station's popular Europe Editor is leaving Brussels to take over the job vacated by the Fine Gael TD.

Whelan, who has fronted the station's coverage of European affairs since 2001, will return to Dublin shortly.

The move could also save money for the hard-pressed broadcaster if they decide to leave Sean's assistant in the Europe Bureau.

Mr Whelan played a central role in the station's coverage of the Lisbon Treaty referendum.

He is seen as one of the station's brightest journalists and was a major success in Brussels making the jargon of Europe understandable to audiences.


A spokesperson for RTE confirmed that the appointment had been signalled to colleagues yesterday and will be formally announced this evening.

The post is one of the most prestigious at the national broadcaster, although Mr Whelan may have to forsake his title as an editor.

It's likely he will instead have to serve a time as Economics Correspondent, before possibly regaining an editorial position.

The station's prophet of doom, George Lee, left last May amid a flurry of hype as he moved into politics.

Since then he has become one of Fine Gael's main speakers on economic issues, although a recent gaffe over maternity leave has caused a few blushes.

RTE bosses stopped accepting CVs for Lee's replacement on June 7 and it had seemed that they would move quickly to fill the vacant post.

However, interviews only took place in recent weeks, with a number of candidates short-listed.

Asked about the likelihood of a new position opening up in Brussels, a spokesperson said that "no decision" had been made in that regard yet.

However, she added: "Everything will be done in the context of the current economic climate."