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Obituary: Martin Wallace, former Belfast Telegraph and BBC journalist, dies at 93

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Martin Wallace left the BBC in the mid-1980s before he had a brief career teaching journalism in at University of Ulster in Coleraine

Martin Wallace left the BBC in the mid-1980s before he had a brief career teaching journalism in at University of Ulster in Coleraine

Martin Wallace left the BBC in the mid-1980s before he had a brief career teaching journalism in at University of Ulster in Coleraine

Martin Wallace left the BBC in the mid-1980s before he had a brief career teaching journalism in at University of Ulster in Coleraine

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Martin Wallace left the BBC in the mid-1980s before he had a brief career teaching journalism in at University of Ulster in Coleraine

Martin Wallace, who died recently in England, was a former Deputy Editor of the Belfast Telegraph and later a senior staff member with the BBC in London.

He was 93. In his latter years he suffered acutely from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Mr Wallace was the son of William and Florrie Wallace and was born at home in Bradbury Place, Belfast in April 1929.

Educated at Friends School, Lisburn, he graduated from Queen’s University with First-Class honours in Geography, and then studied for a year at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. In 1957 he joined an advertising agency in Canada.

While working in Montreal he met Valerie Webb, another Queen’s graduate. They married after a “whirlwind” romance of only two months, and later they returned to Belfast while Valerie was expecting the first of their four children.

Mr Wallace joined the Belfast Telegraph and quickly rose up the ranks to become Deputy Editor when the legendary John E. Sayers was Editor-in- Chief. Both men were strong liberal Unionists and worked hard to back Captain Terence O’Neill, the Northern Ireland Prime Minister, who was trying – in vain – to drag his party into more liberal paths.

In 1969 Mr Wallace left the Belfast Telegraph for a career in radio, and he worked with RTE and later with the BBC in Belfast. In 1974 he moved with his family to London to work with the BBC. During his 12 years there he was Head of News and Current Affairs (Radio) before taking up the new role of Head of Parliamentary Broadcasting in 1978.

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After leaving the BBC in the mid-1980s, he and Valerie returned to live in Helen’s Bay, and he had a brief academic career teaching journalism at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, before taking up full retirement.

His daughter Ruth, a former print journalist and now freelance TV producer, said: “My Dad was a lovely gentle man with an encyclopedic knowledge of so many things who passed on many of his passions to his children.” 

She added: "Current affairs was his true passion and even in his final years the sound of rolling news on the BBC and on Sky was a great comfort to him.”


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