Belfast Telegraph

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Farewell to Liam Clarke, a giant of journalism

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 28/12/2015

Liam Clarke
Liam Clarke

Liam Clarke, the esteemed political editor of the Belfast Telegraph, who has passed away, was recognised widely as an undoubted giant of journalism. He established an unrivalled reputation as a voice of authority on both political and security matters.

The shock and outpouring of sympathy and grief from figures across the political and journalistic spectrum have underlined the great respect for Liam on all sides.

He started his career at the Sunday News and then became the Ireland correspondent, and later Northern Ireland editor, of the Sunday Times, as well as being a high-profile commentator on politics.

He built up a formidable and deserved reputation as a fearless investigative reporter, and he was the author of two acclaimed books on Sinn Fein.

His pursuit of truth created personal difficulties. After publishing his biography of Martin McGuinness, titled From Guns to Government, he and his wife, Kathy, were subjected to rough treatment from the police.

Following the publication of transcripts from the book revealing how McGuinness's telephone was bugged, armed officers arrived at his home and seized computers and children's games.

They smashed the door to his office, and the couple were held in custody for 23 hours, simply for Liam doing his job.

Typically, he refused to back away and publicly confronted the-then Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, over the arrest.

Liam joined this newspaper in 2011 as political editor, and enhanced his already outstanding career.

Even though he battled against severe ill-health in recent months, he refused to let his standards slip.

Two weeks ago, he delivered another memorable scoop when he revealed exclusively the impending retirement of First Minister Peter Robinson.

His final report for the Belfast Telegraph was his searching and emotional interview with Arlene Foster.

Away from his work, Liam was kind, generous and full of humour. His untimely death has stunned and saddened all his colleagues at the Belfast Telegraph.

Our thoughts are with his widow and the family at this very difficult time.

His death is a major loss to journalism and public life.

Belfast Telegraph

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