Tributes have been paid following the death of veteran journalist and author, Liam Clarke, BBC reports. His most recent position was as political editor at the Belfast Telegraph, a post he took up in 2011. He previously worked at the Sunday Times as its Northern Ireland editor for 20 years before becoming a columnist for the paper.
Mr Clarke was also a regular contributor to BBC NI’s political programmes. In 2014, he was named CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) journalist of the year. Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt, a former journalist, said he was “stunned and deeply saddened” to hear of Mr Clarke’s death.
“Liam was hugely professional, always probing and persistent, yet also totally trustworthy,” he added. “I remember him as a senior print journalist with the Sunday Times when I began my career with BBC Northern Ireland. “He was someone worth reading, listening to and following.
“News journalists do a job that some people do not always like, so the journalist’s ambition must be to earn respect, which is quite a challenge in a divided society like ours. Liam won that universal respect, deservedly so.” DUP leader Arlene Foster said her thoughts and prayers were with Mr Clarke’s family.
“As a journalist Liam had an ability to cut through all the padding and get right to the core of a story,” she said. “He will be missed by us as politicians but of course our grief is overshadowed by that of his family whom he loved dearly and often spoke.” Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was sorry to learn of Mr Clarke’s passing.
A Sinn Féin spokesperson said the journalist “was a long standing figure in political reporting in the North of Ireland”.
TUV leader Jim Allister also expressed his condolences. “His biography of McGuinness “From Guns to Government” was a tour de force of journalism, which displayed his undoubted skills,” he said. “His role and contribution at the Belfast Telegraph made him a household name for many.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood paid tribute to Mr Clarke’s life and legacy. “Liam Clarke is one of the most recognisable names in Irish journalism,” he said. “That’s due not only to his distinguished career and remarkable work ethic but to his warm character and his good nature.
“Never one to give any politician an easy ride, Liam’s enduring professional qualities were his straight talking style and his dogged determination. “A good journalist and a good man, he will be sorely missed.”