Stockport-born Irvine started on the Warrington Guardian and worked for the Derby Telegraph, Bradford Telegraph & Argus and Liverpool Echo before taking his first full editorship, on the North Wales Daily Post, in 2005. Seven years later he was offered the MEN job when Maria McGeoghan decided to step down, and he also has a wider responsibility for the Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

His time at the MEN has been marked by falling print sales and staff-streamlining – a familiar story for all regionals – as Trinity moves to a more centralised content system and digital-first newsroom, but the paper has certainly developed a more vibrant and smart online operation, with daily unique users now ahead of both the Echo and the Evening Standard.