Belfast Telegraph

Sadness at death of BBC man who advocated mixed schools in Northern Ireland

By David Gordon

Integreated education campaigners in Northern Ireland have paid tribute to Brian Hanrahan, the BBC reporter who has died at the age of 61.

Mr Hanrahan's wife Honor is from the province and, like many other BBC big names, he worked here during the Troubles.

In a statement the Integrated Education Fund said its staff, governors and volunteers were “deeply saddened” by the “untimely death of their friend, supporter and esteemed journalist Brian Hanrahan”.

It added: “Brian was a committed advocate of educating children together across the divide in Northern Ireland.

“Only last month Brian joined with fellow supporters to attend a special dinner in the House of Lords.

“He will be sorely missed and we extend our sympathies to the wider family circle.”

Northern Ireland-born ITN reporter and presenter Bill Neely paid a warm tribute to Mr Hanrahan on his blog, describing him as a “lovely, funny, clever man”.

Mr Neely also recalled answering a call from him during the 1982 Falklands War, during one of his most famous reporting assignments.

The call was made to the BBC in Belfast, where Mr Neely was working at the time. Mr Hanrahan was phoning from the Falklands to speak to his then girlfriend and future wife Honor.

“It was all the more astonishing because I had no idea that my diminutive, bob-haired colleague Honor ... was hooked up with the most famous war correspondent in the world. Few did. I was stunned. I got her to the phone and left, as if an Exocet missile had passed overhead.

“Brian called a few more times over the next few weeks on the secure line from the Royal Navy Taskforce. Always for Honor. I felt like I knew a war secret,” Mr Neely wrote.

Among the colleagues who paid tribute was BBC director general Mark Thompson, who said: “Brian was a journalist of unimpeachable integrity and outstanding judgment but his personal kindness and humanity also came through.”

He was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and his condition deteriorated when he was admitted to hospital with an infection 10 days ago.

Hanrahan spent 40 years with the BBC reporting from all over the world, including the assassination of Indira Gandhi in India, the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, the Tiananmen Square massacre and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Fellow BBC reporter Kate Adie said Hanrahan had “a wonderful way with words” and recalled hearing his famous Falklands broadcast. “It was an extraordinary moment,” she said. “Rightly it has gone into history.”

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