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Paddy O'Flaherty was a reporter to his very fingertips

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 28/09/2016

Paddy O'Flaherty was a keen angler
Paddy O'Flaherty was a keen angler

The death of Paddy O'Flaherty marks the end of the broadcasting career of a man who was admired and warmly regarded by a wide range of people throughout Northern Ireland.

Paddy had a deep, honeyed voice that was ideal for broadcasting. He was easy on the ear, but his skill as a reporter was one of the main reasons why he was so successful.

He was a reporter to his fingertips. In every situation he could pick up quickly the essence of a story, and he was such a down to earth person that there was no situation that was too big or too small for him to cover.

He could instil some broadcasting magic into what could have become a routine story, but he also had the depth and experience to cover some of the worst atrocities of the Troubles with the gravity that was required in such a demanding situation.

Above all, he had the instinctive skill of a good reporter who knows that at the heart of every story there is a human angle, and that every person has his or her own story, provided there is an opportunity to tell it.

So often in today's media there is an emphasis on speed and brevity. Paddy O'Flaherty always made his deadlines, but he also had the experience to know how to take time with people, and - most importantly for any journalist - of knowing when to listen to someone who needed time to tell their story.

Paddy was also an accomplished musician in the country and western genre, and at the peak of his fame he had his own television programme, full of good tunes and of homespun, folksy humour.

It is said that a really good reporter is always working, in the sense that he or she can spot a story anywhere, whatever the time or occasion.

Paddy had that gift, which meant that people who thought that broadcasting was easy or straightforward may not have realised the skill, hard work and detail that goes into every good story.

Paddy O'Flaherty died after a short illness but, like a true professional, he was working right up to almost the very end.

The news of his death came on the same day that there was a special service in Westminster Abbey to mark the 50th anniversary of Sir Terry Wogan's first broadcasts with the BBC.

Terry and Paddy were very different personalities, but they have left their mark and no one can ever replace them in the same way.

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