Tag Archives: Caitriona Perry

Irish correspondents in America, today & yesterday


The National Union of Journalist (Ireland & U.K.) has proposed technology firms should pay a 6 percent “windfall tax” towards a rescue package for the embattled media industry. Despite soaring online traffic, national and local media have been hit hard by declining advertising revenues since the start of coronavirus crisis. Many outlets have cut jobs or reduced pay. Lynch and O’Donovan raised these concerns in their conversation with IN-DC.


A New York Times profile of 41 foreign correspondents working in the United States included Suzanne Lynch of The Irish Times and Brian O’Donovan of RTÉ News. Two weeks after the story published in April, both reporters discussed their roles at an Irish Network-DC virtual meeting.

“In this tumultuous period of American politics, there are perhaps more foreign correspondents in Washington, D.C., than ever before,” the Times wrote in The Journalists. “What unites them is their fight against the threat of misinformation and their struggle to accurately inform their fellow citizens about what’s happening here — and how it might affect them.”

Notwithstanding such high-minded missions, Lynch, 41, and O’Donovan, 40, told IN-DC that “Trump is gold” for online clicks and viewer ratings back in Ireland. “He keeps on giving as a story,” O’Donovan said. Lynch added the U.S. president has become “so all-consuming” that he often cuts into other coverage.


In the Times piece, Lynch said she “was taken aback by how open the [political] system” is in America. “On Capitol Hill in particular, you can really walk around the halls of power, go into the offices of members of Congress and talk to them directly.”


O’Donovan told the paper that the four-year RTÉ posting in Washington is “one of the best jobs within the station,” and that he is very aware “this will be remembered as a unique time, and I’m privileged to be covering it and watching it firsthand.”

During the IN-DC discussion, both correspondents shared how they are now frustrated and challenged by the social distancing and travel restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Irish audiences love stories of the real America,” said Lynch, who nevertheless filed nearly 50 stories during April.

She also noted how the health crisis has distracted U.S. political attention (already waning in the Trump administration) from the restored power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland and the impact of Brexit on the island of Ireland. RTÉ‘s Caitríona Perry, who preceded O’Donovan in Washington, last fall published a book from the opposite perspective, The Tribe: The Inside Story of Irish Power and Influence in US Politics.

Earlier correspondents


“Ireland has had a long established tradition of excellence in foreign news coverage,” Kevin Rafter, head of Dublin College University’s School of Communications, has written.1 He includes William Howard Russell, Francis McCullagh and Emile Joseph Dillon among a “very impressive group” of late 19th and early 20th century Irish foreign correspondents.


Another group, Irish immigrants in America who owned or wrote for U.S. newspapers, also influenced audiences back in the homeland. These include Jerome Collins, John Devoy, John F. Finerty, Patrick Ford, John Boyle O’Reilly, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, and Margaret Sullivan.2


A century ago, as Ruth Russell, Harry Guest, and other U.S. journalists filed dispatches from revolutionary Ireland, Irish papers included stories about American politics, business, society and events. Much of this reporting came from un-bylined and now forgotten correspondents; either Irish, British, or American writers, often working for wire services and other cooperative arrangements between papers.

I encourage readers to share the names of Irish correspondents who were on assignment in the United States during this period.

Europol’s Pat Byrne on migration, policing & JFK

Ireland, with its long history of emigration, can play a leading role in international migration issues, said Patrick Byrne, senior Europol representative in the U.S. Europe is being overwhelmed with refugees from the Middle East, North Africa and Asia; and the issue also is roiling the U.S. presidential election.

“Ireland is in a better place to have a practical and kind approach to migration,” Byrne told the 18 February gathering of Irish Network DC. “This could be our finest hour if we resist right-wing nationalism that we see in other parts of Europe.”

Patrick Byrne, senior Europol representative in the U.S. and RTE's Washington correspondent Caitriona Perry.

Patrick Byrne, senior Europol representative in the U.S., and RTE’s Washington correspondent Caitriona Perry.

In 2012, Byrne became the first Irish person appointed to the Europol post with the European delegation in the U.S. His job is to help increase strategic and operational cooperation between the E.U. and U.S. federal, state and local law enforcement agencies on issues such as terrorism, cyber crime, organised crime and drug trafficking.

Interviewed by RTÉ Washington correspondent Caitriona Perry, Byrne said information sharing between the E.U. and U.S. has increased 63 percent in recent years. In 2013, he wrote about “Increased Globalization of Organized Crime and Terrorism: Europol and the EU Perspective” for The Police Chief magazine.

Byrne said that Ireland’s top contributions to international law enforcement have come in the areas of peacekeeping, with more than 56,000 missions around the world; conflict resolution, including Northern Ireland; and financial crime. Twenty years ago, he helped establish the Criminal Assets Bureau at An Garda Síochána.

A native of Rialto in Dublin, Byrne said he was at Islandbridge to watch President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade through the city 23 June 1963. Then a lad of about three, he joked of being told that the U.S. leader “waved right at me.”

I asked the career cop if he has looked at the 1915-1916 “Movement of Extremists” reports of the Dublin Metropolitan Police Detective Department, which the Irish National Archives last year began making available online. He said he had not.