Charles "Charlie" Bird (born 9 September 1949) is an Irish journalist and broadcaster. He was Chief News Correspondent with RTÉ News and Current Affairs until January 2009. He took up the role of Washington Correspondent, but prematurely returned to his earlier post in Ireland in June 2010. He retired from RTÉ in August 2012.
Bird was born in Sandymount, Dublin in 1949. He was educated at Sandymount High School.
In the late 1960s, Bird took an active interest in far left politics, being a member of Young Socialists. In this role, along with Tariq Ali of the International Marxist Group, he attended the funeral of Peter Graham of Saor Éire who was assassinated on 25 October 1971 in an internecine dispute. A photograph of the funeral shows Ali and Bird giving a clenched fist salute at the grave. Charlie Bird was recruited into RTÉ by Eoghan Harris in the mid 1970s.
In the early 1970s he joined Official Sinn Féin and in 1973 was their director of elections in Dublin South-Central.
For many years in the 1990s, Bird was the only point of contact between RTÉ and the Provisional IRA. He witnessed at first hand the ceasefires and the subsequent twists and turns of the peace process. In 1998, Bird and his colleague George Lee broke the story about tax evasion at National Irish Bank.
On the international front, Bird reported on both Gulf Wars and was in Syria for the release of Brian Keenan. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from University College Dublin in 2002.
Bird was attacked during the Dublin Riots of 25 February 2006, suffering a fractured cheekbone, soft tissue damage and bruising. On RTÉ News broadcasts later that evening, he spoke of his personal experience—and of how his assailants had recognised him and called him an "Orange Bastard". Witnesses included Sunday Independent journalist Daniel McConnell, who reported on the event the following day. Bird's appearance on the Six O'Clock News was criticised by The Sunday Times in its edition the following day, as it felt "Bird makes himself the story". In 2008, a man pleaded guilty to violent disorder and assaulting Bird.
He presented the Charlie Bird Explores series in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In this collection of documentary programmes, he visited the Amazon, the Ganges, and the Arctic.
On 7 October 2008, Bird was announced as the latest person to fill the post of RTÉ News and Current Affairs Washington correspondent. His first report as Washington correspondent was on RTÉ News: Nine O'Clock about US Airways Flight 1549. RTÉ received 30 complaints after he "failed to wear a suit and tie" on RTÉ News: Six One during coverage of the death of Ted Kennedy.
Bird provided coverage from the 2010 Haiti earthquake in January 2010. A two-part documentary about his first year in the United States was broadcast later that month on RTÉ One. In it he spoke of his "madness" in moving to the country and his lack of contacts and recognition in Washington DC. At the end of the second programme, he announced he would vacate his Washington post. Early viewing figures suggested that the two programmes got viewing averages of 473,000 and 563,000 people. RTÉ cited Bird's "popularity" when asked about the large audience.
Bird returned to Ireland to take up his previous job of Chief News Correspondent with RTÉ in June 2010. He covered a high profile leadership challenge of Enda Kenny on his return. The Washington role was filled by Richard Downes. During August 2010, Bird began presenting The Marian Finucane Show. Bird retired from RTÉ on 26 August 2012. His last broadcast was presenting the The Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio 1.
He presented Tonight with Vincent Browne on TV3 between 29 August and 1 September 2016.