Joe Duffy

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Joe Duffy
Joe Duffy in September 2011
Joseph Duffy

(1956-01-27) 27 January 1956 (age 68)
Alma materTrinity College Dublin
OccupationRadio presenter
AgentNoel Kelly[1][2][3]
Known forPresenting Liveline

Joseph Duffy (born 27 January 1956) is an Irish radio and TV presenter employed by RTÉ. One of the public service broadcaster's highest-earning stars,[4] he is the current presenter of Liveline, an interview and phone-in chat show broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 on Mondays to Fridays between 13:45 and 15:00.

Duffy was a student activist and a former president of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). He is married, is the father of triplets, and resides in Clontarf, Dublin. He won a Jacob's Award in 1992.

Duffy is a client of self-styled "agent to the stars" Noel Kelly of NK Management.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

Duffy was born on 27 January 1956 in Mountjoy Square, Dublin.[5] He was brought up in Ballyfermot, one of five siblings. His father was Jimmy and his mother Mabel. Jimmy, who had problems with alcohol, died aged 58 in 1984.[6] Joe Duffy's brother Aidan was killed in a road accident on the Maynooth Road in 1991 aged 25, with Joe first learning of the "horrific accident" on the news on RTÉ Radio.[6] Joe's brother Brendan was described by him as "crippled, ruined and wrecked by a savage addiction" to sniffing glue which he developed as a teenager.[6]

Duffy attended De La Salle Boys' primary school, St Lorcan's B.N.S. and St John's De La Salle College. He enrolled at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in 1977 to study Social Work and was elected President of Trinity College Students' Union in 1979, becoming President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) four years later.[5] As President of the USI he was once jailed for an occupation in which he had participated.[citation needed]

In 2008, he appeared on the RTÉ television series Who Do You Think You Are?,[7] where his family history in the British Army in India was revealed.[8]



Duffy claims he thought about resigning from RTÉ in 2007 after the broadcaster forced him to give Justice Minister Michael McDowell a platform on Liveline to make a "party political broadcast". Duffy considered it "direct party-political interference" in Liveline.[9] However, he went ahead with the broadcast and did not resign or make any protest on air.

In October 2008, he was proactive as a supporter of Irish pensioners who marched on Leinster House (home of the Oireachtas) to protest at the proposed means testing of their medical cards in the Government Budget.[10][11] However, earlier that month, he was reportedly censored by the government when he attempted to continually discuss the effects of the global financial crisis in Ireland.[12] This followed on from the outrage caused when Duffy was held responsible by Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan, for inciting widespread public fear that Irish citizens were on the verge of losing their savings. Several callers freely spoke of their lack of confidence in the banking system, of how they had withdrawn their money from banks, some of which were identified, and were either carrying it around on their person, or considering keeping it "under the mattress", or burying it in their garden. Lenihan personally rang Cathal Goan, the Director-General of RTÉ, on 18 September 2008 (the date of the show) to express his outrage at the sudden increase in potentially disastrous speculation following the show.

The extent of The Finance Minister's concern first publicly emerged the following morning when he was interviewed by RTÉ's economics editor George Lee. In that interview, Lenihan insisted that deposits were not in any danger and said that people should not be going to banks to shift their deposit accounts "on the basis of unfounded allegations made on radio programmes".[13]

Rival broadcaster TV3 accused RTÉ and Joe Duffy of waging a "dirty tricks" war against them after a late-night game show run by TV3 was berated by callers to Liveline and saying several times on air that he had been unable to get a representative from the station to reply to callers' concerns. TV3 said a lengthy statement was sent to the Liveline office almost two hours before the September 2009 show went on air but was ignored, despite the fact that it clarified some of the issues.[14] The Play TV service was discontinued by TV3 in March 2010 after 29 complaints to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), though TV3 said it was because of a decline in viewership.[15]

Journalist Kevin Myers wrote in October 2009, "Throw in some mob-oratory from the national broadcaster's disgraceful 'Liveline', and almost no state institution and no politician is safe from the vengeful, idiot wrath of Madame La Guillotine, or Les Heureuses Tricoteuses."[16]


Duffy earned €408,889 in 2008.[17] RTÉ's Director General said there was "no question that by today's standards" the salaries paid to its top presenters last year "were excessive. I have to repeat that they were set at a different time in a different competitive reality where some of this talent might be up for poaching by other organisations and in RTÉ's view at the time, they delivered value for money".

Listeners, who contacted RTÉ Radio 1's Drivetime programme were swift to condemn the salary level, saying it was ironic that programmes like Liveline – presented by Joe Duffy – were used as a platform for criticising the pay and expenses of Oireachtas members.[18]

Duffy defended his own high wages and those of his fellow RTÉ presenters while appearing on TV3's Midweek in October 2011, claiming they were agreed “fair and square”.[19] The following month, his 2009 earnings were revealed by RTÉ to have been €389,314.[20] He defended this by saying he considered himself and his Liveline show "good value" for RTÉ.[21]

In March 2013, it was revealed he had earned €378,000 in 2011,[22] which increased to €392,494 in 2019.[23]


In 2018–19, Duffy played (in pre-recorded sequences) the Magic Mirror in the Cheerios Panto, Snow White, making use of some of the Liveline catchphrases, such as "Talk to Joe".[24]

Lampooning of Joe Duffy on The Savage Eye[edit]

Duffy is frequently lampooned at length on the satirical TV programme The Savage Eye. It portrays him as a fetish garment clad sado-masochist who derives perverse pleasure by urging his call-in radio listeners in a strong working class Dublin accent, to express excesses of degradation and misery as he "empathises" verbally and plays with his nipple clamps. Duffy has since questioned viewership figures for The Savage Eye on his daily radio show and had questioned whether it is "blasphemous" on his Sunday afternoon religious affairs TV show Spirit Level.[25][26][27]

Personal life[edit]

Joe Duffy is married and is the father of triplets.[28] He currently resides on Dublin's Northside.[5]

He describes himself as a Christian socialist who advocates justice "very much based on Christian teaching and principles".[citation needed] Duffy retraced his Christian roots in 2010 by hosting an RTÉ One TV show called Joe Duffy's Spirit Level which discussed the great faith of the Irish people and various religions present in the country, and also queried whether David McSavage's satirical portrayal of Duffy could be considered blasphemous.

His autobiography Just Joe was launched by Gay Byrne in Harry's Bar in October 2011.[28][29] In 2014, Duffy made a cameo in Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie as himself. The film was negatively received but was a moderate box office success.

In August 2022, Joe described on his radio programme his terrifying recent encounter with a weever on a Dublin beach, leading to 'excruciating pain' which necessitates him wearing swim boots at all times.[30]


In 1992, Duffy won a Jacob's Award for his reports on RTÉ Radio 1's The Gay Byrne Show.[5]

Duffy was named 11th most influential person of 2009 by Village.[31]


  1. ^ a b Deegan, Gordon (31 January 2023). "Agent to the stars Noel Kelly sees profits more than double in 2022: Accumulated profits at NK Management — whose clients include Ryan Tubridy, Pat Kenny, Dermot Bannon and Claire Byrne — push past €900,000". The Irish Times. NK Management represents the likes of Pat Kenny, Ryan Tubridy, Dermot Bannon, Claire Byrne and Joe Duffy among others.
  2. ^ a b Meagher, John (20 November 2011). "Why RTE stars call Noel Kelly 'The Godfather': He is agent to the big names and he negotiated their huge salaries. Who is he -- and how did he become so powerful?". Sunday Independent.
  3. ^ a b Keena, Colm (1 July 2023). "Noel Kelly: Who is the behind-the-scenes agent, seen as RTÉ's 'real director general'? Dublin talent agent, who played a key role in funneling hidden payments to Ryan Tubridy, was considered more powerful than broadcaster's own director general". The Irish Times. Kelly is a successful agent, working with broadcasters such as Claire Byrne, Joe Duffy, Pat Kenny, Ivan Yates, Matt Cooper, Caitríona Perry, Carl Mullan, Cormac O'hEadhra and Ciara Kelly, as well as Tubridy, as part of his agency, NK Management.
  4. ^ Bowers, Shauna. "Salaries for 10 highest-paid RTÉ presenters amounted to €3m in 2016". The Irish Times. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d Sheridan, Kathy (19 December 2009). "I think of standing for election every day". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  6. ^ a b c Sweeney, Ken (10 October 2011). "Radio star Duffy reveals tragedy that blighted his childhood". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  7. ^ "Joe Duffy on Who Do You Think You Are?" Archived 17 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine. RTÉ. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  8. ^ Bielenberg, Kim (18 October 2008). "The Irish recruits who fight for Queen and country". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  9. ^ Murphy, Cormac (11 October 2011). "Duffy wanted to resign over 'McDowell party speech'. NEW BOOK: Joe reveals 'outrage' over RTÉ's Liveline decision". Evening Herald. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  10. ^ "Post-Budget blues abound but Taoiseach only sees red". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 16 October 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  11. ^ "Joe Duffy's Tips for OAPs" Archived 10 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine. RTÉ. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  12. ^ Kerrigan, Gene (5 October 2008). "Now it's time to play the blame game". Sunday Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  13. ^ Corcoran, Jody (21 September 2008). "Lenihan lash at Joe Duffy banks panic". Sunday Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  14. ^ Cunningham, Grainne (22 September 2009). "TV3 accuses rival of dirty tricks after 'Liveline' attack". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  15. ^ Pope, Conor (6 March 2010). "TV3 pulls 'Play TV' as viewers turn off". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  16. ^ Myers, Kevin (13 October 2009). "We should force-feed Greens their bikes until they choke". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  17. ^ "RTÉ announces highest-paid presenters". RTÉ Entertainment. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 9 October 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  18. ^ McGreevy, Ronan (10 October 2009). "RTÉ pay 'excessive' by today's standards". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  19. ^ Freeman, Michael (20 October 2011). "Joe Duffy defends pay levels for RTÉ presenters". Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  20. ^ "Pat Kenny highest paid RTÉ presenter in 2009". RTÉ News. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  21. ^ Sweeney, Ken; O'Connell, Edel (17 November 2011). "Duffy lashes out at RTÉ's changes to Tubridy's show". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  22. ^ O'Connell, Hugh (27 March 2013). "RTÉ reveals stars' salaries: Ryan Tubridy was paid €723,000 in 2011, according to figures released by the State broadcaster this evening". Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  23. ^ "Tubridy remains highest paid presenter at RTÉ".
  24. ^ Roberts, Sam (15 October 2018). "Joe Duffy is 'hilarious' in new role in Christmas panto Snow White". Irish Mirror. Retrieved 8 January 2023.
  25. ^ "Joe Duffy presents a live and lively show, exploring spiritual and ethical issues in today's Ireland". RTÉ News.
  26. ^ "Fair City". RTÉ News.
  27. ^ "Savage Comedy 'Pushes Boat Out'". Irish Independent. 27 November 2010.
  28. ^ a b Sweeney, Ken (14 October 2011). "Friends book out Joe's big night". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  29. ^ "Review: Autobiography: Just Joe: My Autobiography by Joe Duffy". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 15 October 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  30. ^ "Joe Duffy stung by weever fish as he tells RTE Liveline listeners about 'excruciating pain'". Irish Mirror.
  31. ^ "Ireland's Most Influential 100, 2009". Village. 4 November 2009. Archived from the original on 20 November 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2009.

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