| 6.6°C Belfast

Tributes to writers Robert Fisk and Roberta Wallace after deaths

Robert Fisk

Tributes have been paid to two journalists who worked in Belfast at the height of the Troubles.

Irish President Michael D Higgins said "the world of journalism and informed commentary on the Middle East has lost one of its finest commentators" with the death of veteran reporter Robert Fisk.

Mr Fisk died following a stroke at his home in Dublin. He was 74.

He moved to Belfast to work and report on Northern Ireland for the London Times in the worst year of the Troubles, 1972.

He was also respected for his work covering the Middle East for the Times and later the London Independent, and his later reports often featured in the Belfast Telegraph.

Meanwhile, former Belfast Telegraph features writer Roberta Wallace has died in Dublin.

Roberta covered a wide range of subjects - including theatre, fashion and cookery - in the 1970s for the newspaper's women's sections alongside Betty Lowry, who died on Christmas Eve last year.

She was the daughter of Lurgan lawyer Ronald Rosser, who was better known as a football commentator for the BBC in Northern Ireland.

She was married to the Belfast Telegraph's political editor John Wallace, who moved to Dublin in the 1970s to take up a similar post with the Irish Press.

Roberta worked for a spell in public relations before going on to join the newsroom staff in RTE.

She was also the branch secretary of the National Union of Journalists in Dublin.

After the death of John, Roberta married her RTE colleague Seamus O'Riain, who passed away late last year.

In February 2019 Seamus and Roberta made the news themselves after they protested over the cordoning-off of a bench that they used every day for a break on a walk from their home to a coffee shop.

The bench was out-of-bounds to the public during construction work on the new Facebook headquarters at Ballsbridge, but 89-year-old Mr O'Riain told Dublin newspapers that the barriers were removed after he went onto the building site and read workers there "the riot act".

Roberta, who died in a hospice in Blackrock, will have a private funeral on Wednesday because of the coronavirus restrictions.

Belfast Telegraph