Richard Downes was born and educated in Dublin, and began his career in London where he worked as a minion in the Press Association before moving to the City to work as a specialist financial correspondent covering capital markets and Eurobonds. After a brief stint working for the Financial Times, Richard moved to the BBC as International Business Correspondent, covering the developing world and particularly the IMF and the World Bank and their new structural adjustment programmes in the Third World. This involved a lot of travel in Africa and India, and across the developing world.
In 1995, he moved to Johannesburg to work as southern Africa correspondent for the BBC after the first fully democratic elections there. He covered war and famine and the collapse of long-standing African dictatorships. In 1999, Richard took up a post in Amman, Jordan reporting for the BBC there but also keeping a close eye on what was happening in Iraq. The BBC, like most international broadcasters, was banned from Iraq at the time but the authorities soon opened the doors to journalists, allowing Richard to travel freely and develop a relationship that would last until today.
In 2000, Richard moved back to Dublin and began working for RTÉ. He has worked across a range of programmes and began presenting Morning Ireland in 2002. In 2003, he was back in Baghdad covering the war and the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime for RTÉ, which he wrote about in his 2006 book, In Search of Iraq. That sold a lot more copies than his first effort, Japanese Equity Warrants: A Clear and Comprehensive Guide, which sank without trace when it was published in London in 1989.
Richard is obsessive about African music and, apart from knowing his Congolese rumba from his Nigerian high life, he is a lifelong devotee of the late Lagos legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
He lives on Dublin's northside and is married to Mairead. They have two young boys.