Broadcaster, journalist and documentary presenter, Charlie Bird will mark the 20th anniversary of the first IRA ceasefire in Northern Ireland at the opening of the 2014 Waterways Ireland Scariff Harbour Festival this August Bank Holiday weekend.
For over 10 years from the start of the peace process, Charlie Bird was RTÉ’s contact with leading republicans.
“This was one of the big dates in the history of the peace process, leading to the Good Friday Agreement,” said Charlie Bird. “I was one of three journalists given the statement by the IRA and the only one to have been given an audio copy of an IRA member reading out the statement. They have now been given to the National Museum in Dublin and, in time to come, will be on display,” he added.
The idea for the very first festival in Scariff in 2003 stemmed from the Good Friday Agreement and the foresight of the North South Ministerial Council and the Arts & Culture Departments, North and South, in setting up Waterways Ireland Office in Scariff.
Since then, nurturing relationships and sustaining links with cross-border communities in Northern Ireland, through the promotion of Lough Derg and the inland waterways, have been its raison d’etre.
In 1990, Charlie Bird was among the Irish journalists who covered the release of east Belfast hostage Brian Keenan in Beirut, who also addressed the Scariff Harbour Festival in 2008.
Bird’s international experience covered two Gulf Wars, 9/11 Twin Tower attacks and the ongoing Middle East crisis. He covered the historic election of Nelson Mandela as president, reported from Tibet when former President Many Robinson was United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, reported on the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, on famine stricken African countries and from Haiti and Sri Lanka in the aftermath of catastrophic earthquakes.
In the late 90s he was awarded Journalist of the Year with colleague, George Lee, for their investigative journalism in exposing wrong doing in National Irish Bank. A landmark Supreme Court judgement ruled that the public’s right to know was more important than National Irish Bank’s right to protect the confidential relationship with its customers.
More recently, Bird fronted a number of travel documentaries.