In a move said to have greatly surprised her colleagues, one of Ireland’s top women journalists, Emily O’Reilly, has decided on a major career move and is set to become the Republic’s next Ombudsman and Information Commissioner.
She takes up her E72,000 (£49,700)-a-year appointment in June for a six-year term.
Currently a political correspondent with The Sunday Times in Dublin, O’Reilly has held a variety of top jobs in an eventful career, during which she has also written three books, including one about murdered Irish journalist Veronica Guerin which brought her particular acclaim.
In the 1998 publication, O’Reilly controversially accused the Sunday Independent of failing to give Guerin the support she needed and of allowing her to venture too far into the criminal underworld in search of a story.
Most of the posts held by 45-year-old O’Reilly have involved the coverage and analysis of politics, but she has also worked as a columnist and as a broadcaster with RTE radio and television and with national independent station Today FM.
The Ombudsman role she is about to take on was established in 1984 and was first held by journalist Michael Mills, political correspondent of the now-defunct Irish Press.
The function of the Ombudsman is to examine complaints from members of the public who claim to have been unfairly treated by public bodies which, if found guilty of unjustly treating a citizen, are subject to public condemnation by the Ombudsman.
Like Mills, O’Reilly has been political correspondent of the Irish Press. She was also northern editor of the Sunday Tribune and political editor of the Sunday Business Post.
She left the latter post to become editor of the current affairs magazine Magill in December 1998 but returned to the SBP as political correspondent the following August.
She moved on over a year ago to become political correspondent with The Sunday Times.