Coughlan happy to go Dutch

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Getting to grips with the complexities of international law may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but it’s all in a day’s work for Derry woman Geraldine Coughlan.

She has just taken up the demanding role of international justice editor at Radio Netherlands Worldwide based at the Hague in the Netherlands.

For Culmore Road woman Geraldine, who studied at Thornhill College and Manchester University, it is a dream job.

“I recently graduated with a Master’s degree in European Law and Policy at the Hague University,” she explains.

“That has allowed me to combine my love of both the law and journalism in this new job.

“It’s a very exciting time to be reporting on international law, given what is going on around the world and particularly in Libya at the moment.”

Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports on international justice, war crimes, human rights abuses and genocide from the former Yugoslavia to Rwanda and Cambodia.

Geraldine has been based in the Hague for the past ten years where she worked as the BBC correspondent.

And it was a hugely exciting time to be there.

“I have been covering the Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic trials at the Yugoslavia Tribunal which were fascinating,” she says.

“I very much enjoyed working as a journalist for the BBC, but I wanted to take it further, so I began studying for my Masters in European Law and I graduated last year.

“It wouldn’t be possible to do the job I’m doing now without that level of understanding of the law and I am very happy to be in this position at this time.”

After leaving Thornhill, Geraldine went to the University of Manchester and graduated with a degree in education.

She taught for a couple of years in England before taking up a post at and international boarding school in Holland.

She returned to Northern Ireland and worked as a literacy and numeracy tutor at the Old Rupert Stanley College in Belfast in the early 80s.

By the late eighties she took up a job on the Caribbean island of St Martin, which is half French ruled and half Dutch.

It was at that point that she decided to leave teaching for journalism, taking up a job as news director of Radio St Martin, based on the French part of the island.

In 1991 she headed to Jamaica to re-train as a journalist and she began working for the BBC as their Caribbean correspondent.

In 1999 she moved onto Paris and the following year took up her first position in the Hague.

“I’ve been very lucky with all of the jobs that I have done, they have all been varied and interesting and I have lived in some fantastic places,” she says.

“But this job at Radio Netherlands Worldwide is something which I am relishing.”