Suzanne Breen graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with an honours degree in English and Politics in 1989. She did the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) course in newspaper journalism at the College of Business Studies in Belfast before returning to Queen’s for an MSc in Irish Politics.
She worked for the Irish News and went on to join the Belfast office of the Irish Times in 1992 where she held several posts from general news reporter to Senior Northern Correspondent.
At a time when security and political journalism was almost exclusively male-dominated, Breen covered the Shankill bomb, the Greysteel and Loughinisland massacres, the 1994 Provisional IRA and loyalist ceasefires, and the Good Friday Agreement. She is a long-time supporter of women's rights and extending the 1967 British Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.
Breen broke a series of exclusive stories about a major split in the Provisionals in 1997 and the formation of the Real IRA, as well as covering the 1998 Omagh bomb. She later worked in Dublin for the Irish Times until 2004 covering several major criminal court trials.
Breen was appointed Northern Editor of the Sunday Tribune in 2005. She reported on the cases of many of those disappeared by the IRA. In January 2009, she interviewed a member of the IRA’s South Armagh Brigade who told her that it had disappeared Crossmaglen man Gerard Evans in 1979 which the organisation had always denied. The 24-year-old had been abducted after leaving a dance in 1979.
The IRA man told Breen of his role in the killing and secret burial and gave her a map of where Evans’ body was buried in bogland at Carrickrobin, Co Louth. It was the first time anyone involved in executing one of the disappeared had spoken to the media.
The information led to a dig by the Independent Commission for the Location Victims’ Remains. Evans’ body was recovered and returned to his family for a Christian burial.
In March 2009, Breen was telephoned by the Real IRA when they claimed responsibility for killing two British soldiers at Massereene Barracks in Co Antrim. She was then contacted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and asked to hand over her mobile phone, computer, and other records which she refused to do.
She was supported by the Sunday Tribune and the National Union of Journalists.
In June 2009, Belfast High Court ruled in her favour in a landmark victory for source protection and freedom of the press.
In 2010, Breen broke a series of exclusive stories revealing the role that the paedophile brother Liam of then Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams had played in the party after he had raped his daughter Aine. She also uncovered the ongoing contact between the brothers and the Sunday Tribune published photographs of them together at a time when Gerry Adams had claimed they were estranged.
In 2017, Breen was appointed Political Editor of the Belfast Telegraph. She has won many awards for her work including Northern Ireland news/feature journalist of the year in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2009, 2010 and 2016, and Outstanding Irish Woman Journalist of the year 1999.
She has been a regular political commentator on local and national broadcast media throughout her career.