Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Veteran journalist voices hope for Northern Ireland as he launches memoir

Eamonn Mallie (Deric Henderson/PA)
Eamonn Mallie (Deric Henderson/PA)

A veteran journalist who covered Northern Ireland’s darkest days has spoken of his hope for the region’s future as a new devolved government is formed.

Eamonn Mallie, originally from South Armagh, became one of the best known faces and voices in broadcasting in the region, demanding answers from political figures.

His memoir, Eyewitness To Peace And War, offers a glimpse behind the scenes, from an interview with IRA prisoner Bobby Sands in the Maze Prison, to his first encounter with former first minister Lord Bannside and watching US president Bill Clinton don his son’s neon blue glasses.

Newly-released archive files
Bill Clinton with Tony Blair (PA)

While covering such historic moments Mr Mallie said he would love readers turning the pages of his book to say: “I didn’t know that.”

Describing his childhood on the Irish border, studying at Trinity College, Dublin, and a brief stint on a building site in London, Mr Mallie reveals a direct nature even in his first job interview with the BBC.

But he later moved to Downtown Radio, the station where he spent most of his career.

He described being captivated by personalities, including late former secretary of state Mo Mowlam, who he dubbed “unreal”, adding: “You would not know what she was going to say or do next.”

“Clinton was like that too, Clinton was such fun, so colourful,” he said.

“I was very driven by personalities, individuals. I’m anti-institution, I’m always more empathetic and sympathetic to individuals.”

He describes putting direct questions to his interviewees, including expressing his opposition to violence to Martin McGuinness, a former IRA man who later became deputy first minister.

Martin McGuinness (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“I made it clear to him, I couldn’t subscribe to political violence, he looked at me with those steely blue eyes and said, ‘how do you think I feel’?” Mr Mallie said.

“It was as if he was waiting just to say it. That was a very reflective remark and I think maybe it was a man at a certain time in his life looking back.”

Asked about the rapport he established with former DUP leader Lord Bannside, who went on to become first minister, Mr Mallie said people were “confused and puzzled” by it given their respective backgrounds.

In the book he describes his first meeting with the then Ian Paisley at his home in east Belfast in 1976, being asked where he came from, and replying “South Armagh”, adding “would you do an interview with me”, to the response: “Why wouldn’t I?”

Mr Mallie noted there were few people interviewed or recorded more.

An in-depth broadcast interview with Lord Bannside close to the end of his life dominated headlines as the peer opened up about his life, career and stepping down as DUP leader in 2010 after historically entering powersharing government with Sinn Fein.

While Mr Mallie covered decades of conflict and the peace process in the 1990s, he said he is confident about the future.

He said people from the Protestant/unionist/loyalist community and those from the Catholic/nationalist/republican community have more in common than ever in terms of the shortage of money for health and social care.

“I’m optimistic … there’s a new crop of politicians there,” he said.

“I am very confident that the next generation will not ever again witness any IRA campaign comparable to the so-called armed struggle campaign … that’s dead, gone forever. It’s a new world.

“Sinn Fein is the biggest political party at Parliament Buildings now. If you look at the new crop of Sinn Fein MLAs, they are young, well educated, sophisticated gym-going women, so many of them.

“The only caveat to that is it conceivable that the Protestant/loyalist community could become so angry over something like a border poll. Is it conceivable? I don’t know.”

Eyewitness To War And Peace is published by Merrion Press on Thursday, priced at £17.99.