Ursula Halligan

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Ursula Halligan
Ursula Halligan at count.JPG
Ursula Halligan at the RDS in 2009
Born1960 (age 58–59)[1]
Notable credit(s)
RTÉ Current Affairs
TV3 News

Ursula Halligan is the political editor of Ireland's main independent television station, TV3.


Halligan grew up in Templeogue, Dublin. She is a Catholic.[2] Her late brother, Professor Aidan Halligan (1957–2015), who held a number of senior leadership positions in English medicine including Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, refused the appointment in 2004 by the Irish Government as the first head of the Health Service Executive, and was "a giant in British medicine" according to the NHS Alliance.[3] It was not until 1990 that she entered journalism.[4] She worked at the Sunday Tribune and Vincent Browne's Magill magazine. After a period with RTÉ News and Current Affairs, she joined TV3 at its inception. In 2000, she won TV Journalist of the Year at her country's National Media Awards.[5] She presented The Political Party, the channel's main weekend current affairs programme until the show was axed as part of wider cutbacks due to the station's financial situation, in March 2009.[6]

On 26 December 2009, Halligan famously disclosed during a TV3 news broadcast that the then Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan Jnr had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Among those who criticised her were Taoiseach Brian Cowen, senior government members and the Sunday Independent.[7] However, she did receive support from numerous other publications and journalists, including the political bi-weekly Village magazine, Ger Colleran, editor of the Irish Daily Star tabloid and the Phoenix magazine, who stated that "If a report of the finance minister facing a serious illness while simultaneously grappling with the biggest financial crisis in the history of the state is not in the public interest then nothing is".[7]

In September 2011, Halligan presented a three-part series on the rise and fall of Fianna Fáil, the party wiped out at the general election of the previous February.[8]

In July 2012, Halligan was involved in a direct showdown with the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, after Kenny was asked about his opposition to same-sex marriage outside the National Library, a question which caused him to veer into a flowerpot.[9] Government press secretary Feargal Purcell complained of assault to Halligan's bosses and called her a "disgraceful" woman.[10] Witnesses, and there were plenty (including at least 20 journalists and RTÉ television cameras) said one of Kenny's political advisers, a Mark Kennelly, had aggressively "barged" across Halligan.[9] One of them said: "He was like a rugby player about to tackle someone. If anyone was assaulted it was probably Ursula Halligan."[10] The incident became referred to as "flowergate" due to the flowerpot into which the Taoiseach had landed.[11]

In an article published in The Irish Times on 15 May 2015, Halligan came out as gay, writing that she had fallen in love with a girl in her class at the age of 17 and had written in her diary then: "There have been times when I have even thought about death, of escaping from this world, of sleeping untouched by no-one forever. I have been so depressed, so sad and so confused." Accordingly, she announced her support for a 'yes' vote in the Marriage Equality referendum, scheduled for the following week. Her absence from TV3's coverage of the referendum campaign had been remarked upon, Halligan having previously informed her employer of her position.[1][12] She endorsed a YES vote as "the most Christian thing to do", a position that forced her out of the channel's referendum coverage.[13][14] Halligan's article was well received; fellow broadcaster Graham Norton called it “heartbreaking” and retweeted it to his one-million followers.[15][16][17][18] An article by Miriam Lord on Halligan's public acknowledgement of her sexual orientation was well received.[19][20] Referring to the close proximity of her disclosure to the referendum seven days later, Halligan said she had intended to deal with the matter two weeks earlier, only to be delayed by the untimely death of her brother.[21][22][23]


  1. ^ a b Halligan, Ursula (15 May 2015). "Referendum pointed me towards telling the truth about myself". The Irish Times.
  2. ^ O'Reilly, Grace (15 May 2015). "We are facts of nature not freaks of nature". Today FM.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Caveman scripts are the real enemy". Sunday Independent. 11 August 2013.
  5. ^ Senzee, Thom (15 May 2015). "Top Journalist Comes Out One Week Before Ireland's Marriage Vote". The Advocate.
  6. ^ "TV3 Shakeup Current Affairs Programming". Irish Film and Television Network (IFTN). 30 March 2009.
  7. ^ a b "Volume 28: Issue 01" (PDF). The Phoenix.
  8. ^ "TV3 major documentary series on Fianna Fáil". 31 August 2011.
  9. ^ a b Doyle, Kevin (7 July 2012). "TV3 fights back at claim reporter 'assaulted' Kenny". Evening Herald. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013.
  10. ^ a b O'Connor, Niall; Doyle, Kevin (6 July 2012). "TV3's Ursula was 'blocked' by the Taoiseach's advisor". Evening Herald.
  11. ^ Drennan, John; Sheehan, Maeve (8 July 2012). "Martin to challenge Kenny over spin doctor 'Ursula assault' claim". Irish Independent.
  12. ^ "Ursula Halligan : 'I have been in a prison since the age of 17'". BreakingNews.ie. 15 May 2015.
  13. ^ "TV3's Ursula Halligan comes out as she calls 'Yes' vote the 'most Christian thing to do'". Irish Independent. 15 May 2015.
  14. ^ Brophy, D. (16 May 2015). "TV3 Political Editor told she could cover referendum, if she stayed out of debate: Ursula Halligan is calling for a Yes vote in the marriage referendum, and has praised the broadcaster for re-arranging its coverage to accommodate her". TheJournal.ie.
  15. ^ "TV3 star Ursula Halligan says she's been overwhelmed by support since revealing she is gay". 15 May 2015.
  16. ^ Flaherty, Ciara (15 May 2015). "Ursula Halligan : 'I have been in a prison since the age of 17'". Irish Examiner.
  17. ^ Russell, Cliodhna (15 May 2015). ""A heartfelt heart-breaking story": Huge praise for Ursula Halligan's coming-out op-ed". TheJournal.ie.
  18. ^ O'Carroll, Lisa (15 May 2015). "Irish journalist comes out ahead of referendum on gay marriage: Ursula Halligan, political editor of commercial channel TV3, writes powerful column in Irish Times about torment of being secretly gay in Ireland". The Guardian.
  19. ^ Lord, Miriam (16 May 2015). "It took real guts for Ursula Halligan to say publicly she is gay". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 16 May 2015.
  20. ^ McLysaght, Emer (16 May 2015). "Miriam Lord trended on Twitter after her 'divine' and touching Ursula Halligan article". The Daily Edge.
  21. ^ "Halligan calls for Yes vote after revealing she is gay". RTÉ News. 15 May 2015.
  22. ^ O'Reilly, Brian (15 May 2015). "TV3's Ursula Halligan: I only told my family I'm gay recently". Evening Herald.
  23. ^ Rogers, Stephen (16 May 2015). "TV3's Ursula Halligan hopes it's not too late to find love". Irish Examiner.