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Journalist who was one of city’s ‘newspaper characters’ dies aged 74

Joe OliverA regional daily’s former industrial correspondent and court reporter has died aged 74.

Tributes have been paid to Joe Oliver, who held both roles while working at the Belfast News Letter in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Joe, pictured, later moved to the now-defunct Sunday News and then turned freelance.

He spent 11 years as a partner in the Ulster Press Agency (UPA) with Jim McDowell, who went on to become editor of the Sunday World, and Brian Rowan, who is best known for his work as a security correspondent with BBC Northern Ireland.

Jim told the News Letter: “As a news reporter, he never side-stepped controversy, whether covering the power-politics of the Rev Ian Paisley at Stormont or the sometimes petty and partisan politics at Belfast City Hall.

“He was one of the old-school journalists who learned their trade ‘on the job’. He was also one of the newspaper characters in the city, and like many of us, he not only ‘lived’ the job but he ’loved’ it. Apart from his family, this was his life.

“He was a man who enjoyed the camaraderie of his fellow journalists, whether in the crucible of meeting press deadlines, or in the calm of a local pub afterwards.

“His legacy will live on in the many stories he filed and which are now on record in many newspapers’ archives.”

Joe is survived by his wife Marie, who was the office manager of the news agency, daughter Lisa and son Mark.