Vincent Browne

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This article is about the Irish journalist and broadcaster. For other people with the same name, see Vincent Brown (disambiguation).
Vincent Browne
Vincent Browne.jpg
Vincent Browne, 2008
Born (1944-07-17) 17 July 1944 (age 70)
Broadford, County Limerick, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Education Castleknock College
Alma mater University College Dublin (UCD)
Occupation Broadcaster and journalist
Employer The Irish Times, The Sunday Business Post, TV3
Known for Presenting TV3's Tonight with Vincent Browne
Spouse(s) Jean Browne
Children Emma
Julia

Vincent Browne (born 17 July 1944) is an Irish print and broadcast journalist. He is a columnist with The Irish Times and The Sunday Business Post and a non-practising barrister. From 1996 until 2007, he presented a nightly talk-show on RTÉ Radio, Tonight with Vincent Browne, which focused on politics, the proceedings of tribunals on political corruption and police misconduct. He now presents Tonight with Vincent Browne on TV3, which broadcasts from Monday to Thursday at 11.05pm. The Guardian has described him as an "acerbic host...Ireland's Jeremy Paxman."[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in 1944, he grew up in Broadford, County Limerick, where he attended the local national school. He spent a year at the Irish language college in Ring, County Waterford, then a year at St. Mary's secondary school in Dromcolliher, County Limerick, before going to Castleknock College (1957–1962). He graduated from University College Dublin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Economics. He also founded the oldest surviving UCD newspaper, the College Tribune, in 1989. He also served as UCD Young Fine Gael's Chairperson in 1968.

Career[edit]

He worked on RTÉ's The Late Late Show for five months in 1967–68.[2] He reported on the Soviet and Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 for The Irish Times and then edited a monthly news magazine, Nusight in 1969–1970.[3]

He was appointed Northern news editor of The Irish Press group in 1970 (working for all three newspapers in the group, The Irish Press, the Evening Press and The Sunday Press) and covered the most intense and violent period of the Northern Ireland conflict.[2] In 1974, he joined Independent Newspapers and, after a brief period in the Evening Herald, worked for the Sunday Independent, then edited by Conor O'Brien and later by Michael Hand.

He launched Magill magazine in September 1977 with Noel Pearson and Mary Holland. Magill became Ireland's foremost investigative publication. Among its writers were Gene Kerrigan, Pat Brennan and Paddy Agnew. He remained editor of Magill until 1983, when he became involved in the relaunch of the Sunday Tribune with Tony Ryan, then of GPA and later of Ryanair. A series of articles he published in Magill highlighting the links between the Workers' Party of Ireland and the Official IRA in the 1980s caused him and other journalists to receive death threats. After the publication of "The Lost Revolution: the Story of the Official IRA and the Workers' Party" it was revealed that the Official IRA had planned to assassinate him by planting a bomb on his boat, but the operation was called off at the last minute. He was editor of the Sunday Tribune until 1994. He has written a weekly column for The Irish Times since then, and since 2000, has written weekly for The Sunday Business Post.[2] He started broadcasting on RTÉ radio in 1996.

In 1997, he relaunched Magill magazine, which had ceased publication in 1990. In the 13 issues he published then, the magazine broke several major stories. One led to the establishment of the Planning Tribunal, originally chaired by Mr Justice Fergus Flood; another caused a committee of the Oireachtas to examine the DIRT scandal; another caused an investigation of insurance "churning" by Irish Life, a leading Irish insurance company. He sold the Magill title to Hosen publisher, Mike Hogan, in November 1998.[2] He was called to the Irish Bar in 1997 and for a while practised as a barrister. He no longer practices law.[4]

In October 2004, he launched a current affairs magazine, Village, of which he was editor.[5][6] Village ceased publication in August 2008 before being re-launched under a new editor, Michael Smith. Browne now writes a column for Village magazine.[7]

He was involved in a controversy over the tapping of his telephone by the Irish state from February 1975 to February 1983. When this was disclosed by former minister for justice Seán Doherty, Browne sued the State. He made a settlement with the State in early 1997 which included an agreement to publish a statement on the settlement, stating, inter alia, that the State had intercepted his telephone conversations for reasons of State security — Browne had written much about the IRA in the early- to mid-1970s — while accepting that Browne had himself never been involved in subversion or crime. On being given access to the transcripts of from 1981, Browne claimed that it was apparent the motivation for the interception of his telephone conversations for the eight-year period had little to do with the security of the State — it was aimed at garnering information on his work as a journalist, entirely aside from his reporting of the IRA. Browne sought to have the agreement altered to permit a public acknowledgement that the intercepts were not done for security reasons. The Fine GaelLabour-Democratic Left coalition government refused. He subsequently disclosed this himself on television and later in print.[8]

For ten years he presented the programme Tonight with Vincent Browne on RTÉ Radio 1.[9] In August 2000, he substituted for John Bowman on the RTÉ television programme Questions and Answers. He also presented Prime Time on RTÉ One.[10]

Since 14 January 2007, he has presented Tonight with Vincent Browne, a nightly current affairs television show on TV3.[11][12] Despite airing on what is usually considered a graveyard slot, the show has been highly successful drawing an average 166,000 viewers.[13]

In June 2012, Denis O'Brien wrote to Browne threatening to personally sue him. Browne disclosed this letter to the general public.[14]

Browne later wrote a piece for The Irish Times on why O'Brien "is not a fit person to control INM [Independent News & Media]". In it he questioned O'Brien's previous threats to personally sue Sam Smyth and asked "[H]ow plausible is it that the removal of Sam Smyth from a Sunday morning radio programme on Today FM, which Denis O'Brien controls, and his ostracisation now within the Irish Independent to which he is contracted (not one article by him has been published for some months), isn't part of the same campaign which Denis O'Brien and [one of his then representatives on the board of INM] Leslie Buckley, conducted against Sam Smyth in 2010?"[15]

Politics[edit]

Vincent Browne speaks as Richard Boyd Barrett watches on.

Browne was involved with the Dublin Anti H-Block Movement during the 1981 Irish hunger strike. In 1994, he sought a nomination for the Fine Gael party in that year's European elections or the possible general election of that year (it was thought a general election might follow the collapse of the Albert Reynolds' government). He was rebuffed by the leader of Fine Gael and future Taoiseach, John Bruton. He then became a vocal critic of the party.[16]

A staunch critic of Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, in 1982 Browne appeared on The Late Late Show to discuss the effectiveness of TDs where he poured scorn on Kenny, claiming he was "purporting" to be a TD.[17] In October 2010, he was forced to make a public apology to Kenny after jokingly asking whether Fine Gael was requesting that he go into a dark room with a gun and bottle of whiskey. This was in reference to Fine Gael's position in the polls, where they were in second place to Labour, and a previous leadership challenge to Kenny by Richard Bruton.[18] Kenny refused to appear on the leaders' debate hosted by Browne on TV3 during the 2011 general election campaign.[19][20]

He voted "No" in the 2012 Irish European Fiscal Compact referendum.[21]

On 23 October 2012, while presenting Tonight with Vincent Browne, he referred to Israel as "the cancer in foreign affairs", and said Israel "polarises the Islamic community of the world against the rest of the world" and that the Jews "stole the land from the Arabs" with the creation of Israel.[22] Israel's deputy ambassador to Ireland considered Browne's comments to be "racist, anti-Semitic remarks". Browne responded that he was not anti-Semitic, but a critic of Israel. He admitted that his choice of language could have been better but said his criticism was justified - "What I resent is the suggestion that because you're critical of Israel, you're automatically anti-Semitic. I don't think that's acceptable". Furthermore, Browne said it was "blackmail" to try to brand everyone who was critical of Israel as anti-Semitic.[23][24] Browne was later ordered to deliver an apology by TV channel TV3.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Browne is married and has two daughters.[5] He sold his 2.6M home in Dalkey in June 2011 to pay off debts incurred from the establishment of Village magazine, and to provide a pension.[26][27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ White, Michael. "An Irish election in a time of staggering debt and quiet rage". The Guardian. 14 February 2011. "And what of Enda Kenny, the man set to inherit this mess? He ducked last week's leaders debate on TV, ostensibly because its acerbic host, Vincent Browne, Ireland's Jeremy Paxman, had suggested he shoot himself, but actually because he's hopeless on TV."
  2. ^ a b c d Haynes, Deborah (26 January 2003). "Times Online Profile: Vincent Browne". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  3. ^ Vincent Browne (2 March 1978). "Now Tony O Reilly gets it twice every Sunday". Village. Retrieved 2009-06-12. [dead link]
  4. ^ http://www.lawlibrary.ie/members/results.asp?fullname=browne&Submit=Search
  5. ^ a b Kevin O'Brien. "An audience with Vincent Browne". The Dublin Informer. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  6. ^ "About Village". Village Magazine. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  7. ^ "Village Magazine Relaunches, 27th November". Village Magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-04. [dead link]
  8. ^ Irish Voice Newspaper, Legendary Pol Dies of Hemorrhage
  9. ^ Vincent Brownw (4 July 2007). "Statement regarding "Tonight with Vincent Browne"". Village Magazine. Retrieved 2009-06-12. [dead link]
  10. ^ "How did this 56-year-old man become RTÉ current affairs' new young hope?". The Sunday Tribune. 13 August 2000. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  11. ^ "You cannot be serious". The Irish Independent. 31 August 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  12. ^ "Vincent Browne is to anchor TV3’s new late-night television news and current affairs show". Irish Examiner. 31 August 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  13. ^ Nielsen Figures Confirm Tv3 Is the Only Terrestrial Channel to Grow Share TV3, 2010-03-02.
  14. ^ "Correspondence between Denis O'Brien and Vincent Browne". Politico. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  15. ^ Browne, Vincent (15 August 2012). "Why I think O'Brien is not a fit person to control INM". The Irish Times (Irish Times Trust). Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  16. ^ Our politicians and reality TV make unlikely bedfellows Sunday Independent, 2007-01-14.
  17. ^ Fine Gael leader's feud with Browne goes back almost 30 years Irish Independent, 2011-02-07.
  18. ^ Browne to apologise for 'silly' suggestion of Kenny suicide Irish Independent, 2010-10-04.
  19. ^ Defiant Kenny digs in over snub to TV debate Irish Independent,2011-02-07.
  20. ^ Kenny refuses to take part in TV3 debate Irish Times, 2011-02-05.
  21. ^ "Vincent Browne: 'No to inequality'". The Guardian. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  22. ^ "Vincent Browne calls Israel "Cancer"". The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism (CFCA). 25 October 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2012. 
  23. ^ "I am not anti-Semitic, claims Vincent Browne". Independent.ie. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  24. ^ "Irish broadcaster denies he is anti-Semitic after complaints from Israeli embassy". IrishCentral LLC. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  25. ^ http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/102958/apology-ordered-irish-tv-host-who-called-israel-cancer%E2%80%99
  26. ^ Broadcaster's Dalkey home on the sea for €3.25m Irish Times, 2010-09-09.
  27. ^ Vincent Browne sells Dalkey mansion.... at last Irish Independent, 2011-06-15.

External links[edit]