Paul Cunningham (journalist)

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Paul Cunningham
Notable credit(s)
Europe Correspondent, RTÉ News and Current Affairs (2011 – present)

Paul Cunningham is an Irish journalist and author. He is currently Europe Correspondent for RTÉ News and Current Affairs. He has regularly reported on conflicts, natural disasters and other matters outside the EU. Most recently he reported from Iran, Ukraine and Iraq.[1][2] He has won multiple awards for his work. Cunningham has also written two books, including Ireland's Burning.


Early career[edit]

Cunningham started to write articles for local newspapers in Dublin, before freelancing with the Irish Times and Irish Press. Quickly he began to pick up freelance shifts on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ 2FM as a sub-editor and news-reader. After 2 years, he was appointed to the RTÉ Newsroom as a reporter.[3]

Lindsay Tribunal[edit]

From 1999 to 2001, Paul Cunningham reported on the infection of Irish people with haemophilia, with HIV, and with Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products. In recognition, he won "National Radio Journalist of the Year" in the ESB National Media Awards in 2000.[4] He followed this up with a documentary exposing the practices of US-based drug firms that exported infected blood products to Ireland. The programme, Bad Blood, won an Irish Film and Television Award.[5] He co-wrote a book, with Rosemary Daly, on the impact of contaminated blood products called A Case of Bad Blood for Poolbeg Press.[6]

Foreign Coverage[edit]

Cunningham has reported extensively from abroad. His first assignment was on the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. He followed up with reports on numerous conflicts including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Lebanon, Kosovo, Algeria, Pakistan/Afghanistan, Guatemala, Nepal, Darfur and Chad. He has also reported on flooding in Mozambique and New Orleans; racism in South Africa; and Chile post-dictatorship.


Cunningham has been a stand-in radio news presenter over many years for programmes such as Morning Ireland, News At One and This Week.[7] He is a regular presenter / editor of European Parliament Report.[8] In 2007, he presented an edition of RTÉ's current affairs interview programme One to One, in which he interviewed award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh.[9] In 2008, after Cunningham interviewed civil servant Padraig O hUiginn for the same series, Sunday Independent columnist Brendan O'Connor compared Cunningham to the hero in US television series Columbo: "seemingly awkward, nerdy and self-effacing and merely innocently asking odd questions, while all the time letting his subject reveal himself".[10]

Environment Correspondent[edit]

As RTÉ's Environment Correspondent, between 2001 and 2010, Cunningham regularly reported on climate change.[11] In October 2006, he reported and blogged on the melting of glaciers in Greenland for RTÉ.[12] In 2008 Cunningham travelled to Chad to film a series of reports on the country for RTÉ.[13] Cunningham covered the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference for RTÉ.[14][15] He also reported from the UNFCCC meetings in Bali (2007) and Montreal (2005) [16]

Cunningham is the author of the book Ireland's Burning,[17] which was published in 2008.[11] It features interviews with Irish people concerned about the environment, including weatherman Gerald Fleming, journalist Kevin Myers and Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley.[11]

Documentary work[edit]

Cunningham has worked as a reporter and producer on several TV documentaries, apart from Bad Blood, including

Kidnapped: Sharon Commins' hostage ordeal in Darfur - 2010 [18]

Green Gold: Search for Ireland's Green Economy - 2010 [19]

Far Away - So Close: Conflict in Guatemala - 2008 [20]

Poptarts and Chemotherapy: Robbie Dillon's story - 1998[21]

A Noble Failure: The Bosnian War and Irish efforts to help - 1994

Europe Correspondent[edit]

Cunningham is now RTÉ's Europe Correspondent, where most of the work focused on the Eurozone debt crisis. Other stories included Arrest and detention of former Bosnian Serb Commander Ratko Mladic [22] 20th anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo [23] Greek elections [24] Portuguese elections [25] Ireland at the helm of the OSCE / Visit to Georgia - Abkhazia [26] Horse meat contamination problems in Poland [27] Train crash at Santiago de Compostela [28]

However, he also reports on matters beyond the EU. He covered the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and resulting Fukushima I nuclear accidents in Japan for RTÉ.[29] Most recently he broadcast a series of reports from Iran, as the provisional nuclear deal with the West came into operation.[30]


In January 2010 Cunningham became known for his choice of hat which, according to the journalist himself via Twitter, is from "Pakistan's tribal areas".[31] He wore the hat during a live television news report for RTÉ outside Government Buildings during the January 2010 weather emergency in Europe.[31] The hat has been described variously as a “woolly pancake”, an “Aran Smurf’s hat” and “stylish, in a French pastry kind of way”.[31] A Facebook group dedicated to the hat had more than one thousand fans within hours of the hat's television debut.[31] Observers noted that Cunningham's hat did indeed resemble a pakul, a traditional men's hat worn in the Chitral and Gilgit regions of Pakistan.[citation needed] Some of these fans met up outside Government Buildings wearing their own hats in a similar manner.[31] RTÉ.ie even referenced the hat in their own weather updates.[32] The hat was auctioned for GOAL on radio programme Mooney on January 21, 2010 to raise funds for the 2010 Haiti earthquake appeal: the hat was purchased after some "frenzied bidding" for €570 by a member of "We love Paul Cunningham's winter hat" Facebook society.[33][34] Cunningham had responded after Derek Mooney said he would auction his own jumper on air.[35]


  1. ^ "RTÉ". Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  2. ^ "". External link in |title= (help)
  3. ^ "". Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Winners of media awards". The Irish Times. 11 November 2000. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  5. ^ "IFTA Awards - Nominees and Winners 2003". IFTN. 22 January 2003. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  6. ^ "A Case of Bad Blood". Alibris. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  7. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  8. ^ "". Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  9. ^ "One to One – Seymour Hersh". RTÉ. 2007-11-05. Archived from the original on May 11, 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-04.
  10. ^ Brendan O'Connor (July 6, 2008). "Rare insight into a public sector laid bare by naked civil servant". Sunday Independent. Retrieved January 15, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c Maeve Dineen (June 28, 2008). "Off to environmental hell in a handcart". Irish Independent. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
  12. ^ "Greenland: Ground Zero of Global Warming". RTÉ. October 2006. Retrieved January 15, 2010.[dead link]
  13. ^ "Chad: Africa's forgotten crisis". RTÉ. Archived from the original on January 5, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2010.
  14. ^ "Climate data emails overshadowing Copenhagen". RTÉ. December 6, 2009. Retrieved January 15, 2010.[dead link]
  15. ^ "Push for agreement at Copenhagen climate talks". RTÉ. December 17, 2009. Retrieved January 15, 2010.
  16. ^ "". Archived from the original on 8 December 2007. Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  17. ^ "Climate Change". RTÉ. Archived from the original on March 28, 2010. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
  18. ^ "". Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  19. ^ "". Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  20. ^ "". Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  21. ^ "". Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  22. ^ "". Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  23. ^ "". Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  24. ^ "". Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  25. ^ "". Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  26. ^ "". Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  27. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  28. ^ / " /" Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  29. ^ "Growing numbers leaving Tokyo". RTÉ. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  30. ^ "". Retrieved 29 January 2014. External link in |title= (help)
  31. ^ a b c d e Fiona McCann (January 12, 2009). "Wardrobes for radio". The Irish Times. Retrieved January 13, 2010. Take Paul Cunningham’s hat (pictured). Last week he appeared on an RTÉ news report wearing what has been described as a “woolly pancake”, an “Aran Smurf’s hat” and “stylish, in a French pastry kind of way” during an online discussion. A Facebook page appeared, dedicated to the accessory in question. [...] Cunningham responded to the hat mania on Twitter with the news that his coveted head cover came from “Pakistan’s tribal areas”.
  32. ^ "LIVE - Weather & transport updates". RTÉ. January 8, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 11.22am If you must venture out today, be sure to wrap up warm just as RTÉ's Paul Cunningham and Mary Calpin did last night.
  33. ^ "Paul Cunningham's hat auctioned for Goal". RTÉ. January 22, 2010. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  34. ^ Sinéad Gleeson (January 29, 2010). "Ways of giving". The Irish Times. Retrieved January 29, 2010. RTÉ faces have contributed personal items to an eBay auction and there was frenzied bidding for the now legendary “big freeze” hat worn by RTÉ environment correspondent Paul Cunningham (above) – going on to raise €570, and Ryan Tubridy’s Late Late Toy Show jumper earned a whopping €1,050.
  35. ^ Claire Murphy (January 22, 2010). "Silly hat is raising cash for Haiti". Evening Herald. Archived from the original on August 1, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2010.

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