'Disgusted, disappointed but not surprised' – row erupts between RTE and former regional correspondent Damien Tiernan
3rd February 2019

A ROW erupted between RTE’s Head of News and Current Affairs and Damien Tiernan after the station’s former south east correspondent criticised the national broadcaster in a newspaper interview.

Tiernan recently left his €90,000 a year job as regional correspondent after 23 years with RTE and is now due to embark on a broadcasting career with WLR FM.

In an interview with a Sunday newspaper today he has hit-out at Montrose chiefs and accused them of dialing-back on regional coverage, stifling creativity, not connecting with its audience and spiralling costs.

But RTE’s head of news Jon Williams has hit back on Twitter, and clearly angered Tiernan in the process.

“Agree RTÉ has brilliant correspondents – which is a why we’ve just appointed new regional correspondents in Dundalk & Belfast. Odd definition of “slashing”. Wish @damienwlrfm every success in new role,” said Mr Williams.

Damien Tiernan’s then responded: “Am disgusted, disappointed but not surprised by RTÉ basically calling me a liar with my figures Jon; RTE does not recognize my figures because RTE doesn’t care enough to ask someone to count them.

He then added: “And one thing, the Regional section on the website and app is a joke.”

Tiernan then went on to write: “If you want to get into a public spat with me bring it on but I have better things to do (like playing an over 35 soccer match); I love RTE more than you will ever know.”

In an interview published  this morning, Tiernan – who opted to take voluntary redundancy and finished with RTE last month – claimed RTE News had reduced the number of stories it took from their regional correspondents.

He gave a series of figures  to the Sunday Business Post – claiming the Waterford studio where he was based produced 220 packages in the early 2000s.

He said this has reduced to between 50 and 60 stories a  year in the last seven years.

His figures did not include any packages produced for Nationwide.

In a statement issued to the Sunday Business Post, RTE said it did not recognise Mr Tiernan’s figures.

It added that its south-east studio provided “comprehensive news coverage from the south-east”.

Later in the same interview, Mr Tiernan said: “Any organisation that becomes arrogant is in serious danger of creating a massive disconnect with its audience.

“The only way for RTE to get back to its roots is to focus on public service broadcasting, not investing millions of euro in a new studio set or Dancing with the Stars. It’s about investing in public service broadcasting.”

Tiernan told the newspaper he earned a salary of €90,000 a year.

In recent weeks, it was announced he was to host a new mid-morning show for a WLRFM.

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