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Drimoleague’s Dee Forbes gets RTÉ’s top job

Saturday, 9th April, 2016 7:20am

Story by Siobhan Cronin
Drimoleague’s Dee Forbes gets RTÉ’s top job

Drimoleague native Dee Forbes is RTÉ’s new DG.

DRIMOLEAGUE native Dee Forbes has been named the new Director General (DG) of State broadcaster RTÉ.

The West Cork woman, who currently heads up TV network giant Discovery Northern Europe, will succeed outgoing DG Noel Curran later this year.

Her appointment was confirmed by the government this week and she is the first woman to hold the prestigious position, but not the first West Cork native – that honour went to Joe Barry from Dunmanway who held the post in the nineties.

Ms Forbes lives in Glandore, but commutes from her West Cork base to the Discovery Networks offices in London. She is based in London from Monday to Friday but spends most weekends in West Cork.

‘That Friday evening Aer Lingus flight to Cork Airport means I can be home in time for dinner, and West Cork helps me recharge my batteries every week,’ she told The Southern Star in an interview last year.

She was educated in the convent in Clonakilty, and has a degree in History and Politics from UCD. As a student, she worked in the family pub during the summers.

Soon after leaving college in Dublin, she got a job in advertising in the UK. ‘It was a great start to my life in London, as a lot of my class had left at the same time, so we had a great network. It was all very Mad Men,’ she recalled.

She also worked for Turner Broadcasting and struck up a relationship its founder, billionaire Ted Turner. In 2010 she was head-hunted by Discovery to run its UK and Ireland arm and was promoted to head-up the Scandanavian market last November. 

She is a non-executive director of The Irish Times, and is also on the board of Munster Rugby (‘my first passion in life’). She also works with Childline UK, and has rowed the Ocean to City race in Cork with Discovery colleagues, in aid of the charity, raising €45,000.

She is also one of the main drivers behind the Ludgate initiative in Skibbereen – Ireland’s first rural digital hub – which is due to be launched shortly.

The hub is a joint venture between local high-profile business people and Vodafone/Siro which will see the Skibbereen offices, based in the former Field’s bakery, providing high speed web access and facilities to technology firms wanting to locate in West Cork. 

This week Cork South West Fianna Fáil TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony offered her congratulations to Dee Forbes on her appointment as the first woman to be appointed to the role.

‘It’s very proud for the community in Drimoleague to have one of their own appointed to such an important role in Irish media.  Ms Forbes has a strong track record in media and communications and brings a wealth of experience to the position in RTÉ,’ she told The Southern Star.

‘This is an extremely important personal achievement for Ms Forbes who has also described this herself as ‘an opportunity of a lifetime’.  RTÉ plays a hugely important role in the media landscape in Ireland as a public service broadcaster.  I think the fact that she is the first DG in almost 50 years to be appointed externally is important to welcome and I am delighted that she will also be the first woman to hold the position.’

Councillors this week also extended their congratulations to Dee Forbes. At a meeting of the Municipal District of West Cork in Dunmanway on Monday, Bantry-based Cllr Mary Hegarty was the first to offer her congratulations, recalling that Dee’s father Vincent had taught her son at Ardscoil Phobail in Bantry.

‘We are all delighted with her appointment,’ said Cllr Hegarty.

Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said that they should extend an invite to Ms Forbes to one of their Municipal District meetings.

‘We should promote West Cork and get Dee down to meet us as it could be a great tourism opportunity,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.

Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) also extended his congratulations to Ms Forbes and said she has done very well for herself. He also pointed out that Ms Forbes has done a lot for West Cork and he pointed out that as well as being involved with Ludgate, she also gave up her time to present Adult Education Awards at Rossa College in Skibbereen at the end of last year.

Cllr Carroll also said he has great memories of being in her parent’s pub, The East End Bar in Drimoleague, where Dee worked in when she was younger. Cllr Carroll also pointed out the fact that Dee’s parents, Vincent and Mackey, were from opposite sides of the political spectrum.