Two popular faces leaving UTV news

NEWSHOUND Fearghal McKinney is expected to bow out from his UTV reporting and presenting duties at the end of the month.

Fearghal, a high-profile political reporter is one of a number of well-known faces at the station accepting voluntary redundancy.

The 46-year-old father-of-three from Fermanagh is believed to be considering a number of options and according to friends is leaving UTV on good terms.

He began his career with the Impartial Reporter in Enniskillen before moving to Downtown Radio and then on to television 15 years ago.

One close pal said: "He has been watching the politicians cutting deals of some sort for the past decade, and I'd be amazed if he hasn't something already up his sleeve. Fearghal had a good but gritty relationship with the MLAs, and he was hugely respected at Stormont.

"It's the end of an era for him. He's had his time on the screen and now feels this is as good a time as any to move on.

"He is as positive and as confident as ever."

When asked about the redundancy, a UTV spokesman said: "While we understand media interest in our on-air staff, it would be wholly inappropriate for UTV to comment on individual personnel matters at any point."

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that popular broadcaster Ivan Little is also leaving UTV after almost 30 years.

The veteran journalist, who has covered Troubles atrocities, 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while sporting his trademark beard, will make his last report to camera at the end of next month.

Speaking from his home in east Belfast, Ivan told the News Letter: "The time is right for a change. I can't say too much as the paperwork hasn't been officially signed off, but I will be making my last broadcast in this job on the last Friday in February."

Ivan has vowed not to quit journalism totally and hinted at plans to work as a freelance and "maintain an association" with UTV.

"I have many happy memories of the place and will be leaving on good terms," he said.