President Michael D Higgins has led the tributes to Irish broadcaster Marian Finucane following the announcement of her death at the age of 69.
President Michael D. Higgins said: “With her death, Ireland has lost a deeply respected, trusted and much-loved broadcaster. Having started her career with RTÉ in 1974, Marian Finucane had become a central part of Irish broadcasting life, covering its events, its personalities, its changes and its tribulations.
“A superb professional, many will remember the wisdom and sensitivity with which Marian Finucane dealt with discussions and confrontations between different voices on what were controversial issues of the day. She was one of the very early exemplars to those who sought a proper representation of women in broadcasting. There will be many, in every part of Irish life, who will miss Marian’s voice, but of course her loss is felt most acutely by her family and friends.”
A RTÉ statement said Marian passed away suddenly on 2 January, at home. She is survived by her husband John, and son Jack.
Born in 1950, she began working at RTÉ in 1976 and went on to become the first presenter of Liveline on RTÉ Radio 1. The show made her a household name.
She took over Gay Byrne’s early morning radio slot following his retirement in 1999, and presented The Marian Finucane Show. She ultimately took over the morning slots on Saturday and Sunday.
Her television work included Consumer Choice and Crime Line, and more recently she presented The Marian Finucane Show.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar posted a picture of Marian as a student protester, saying: “The lesser known Marian Finucane. The architect, activist and proud Dublin woman.”
Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One, Liveline presenter Joe Duffy described Marian Finucane as “the voice of reason”.
“That’s my sense of Marian Finucane,” he continued. “She asked everything you would ask before you made your mind up.”
Comedian Dara O Briain said: “Ah, that’s very sad about the death of Marian Finucane. A lovely woman and a brilliant broadcaster, it was always a pleasure to do an interview with her; just the easy intelligence of her. She will be missed.”
Former Republic of Ireland football star Paul McGrath said: “So sad to hear of the passing of Marian Finucane, Marian always treated me with patience and kindness throughout interviews over the years. What a wonderful lady, my thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time. R.I.P.”
Broadcaster Ciara Kelly said: “I find this so hard to believe, She was an absolute legend, A powerhouse who broke every mould…& she was also v good to broadcasters like me who came up behind her. Like Gaybo she’s irreplaceable.”
RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes said: “We learned today of the sudden passing of Marian Finucane with profound shock and sadness.
“Marian was a broadcaster of immense capability; a household name, she was first and foremost a tenacious journalist with a zeal for breaking new ground.
RTÉ broadcaster Marian Finucane has died. She first began working with RTÉ in the 1970s, and became a household name with her Liveline programme on RTÉ Radio 1.https://t.co/NdTBTTPEMW
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) January 2, 2020
“From Women Today to Liveline to her weekday radio show on Radio 1 and, latterly, her enormously popular Saturday and Sunday radio programme, she tackled the big social issues of the day with command and insight.
“Multi-skilled, she forged a distinguished career on television, as well as undertaking significant charity work in Africa. Ireland has lost a unique voice.
“RTÉ has lost a beloved colleague. My sincere and heartfelt sympathies to her husband John and son Jack.”
Director of Content Jim Jennings said: “The work and legacy of Marian Finucane is without parallel in Irish broadcasting. With the committed team on Women Today she tackled issues that were largely uncovered and unspoken.
“On Liveline she templated a phone discussion format uniquely suited to Irish audiences.
“An award-winning documentary maker, she was an interviewer of profound sensitivity and insight.
“As presenter of RTÉ Radio 1’s flagship weekend morning programme, she had the pulse of the nation. It is with great sadness that we mourn this loss to Irish journalism, and to all her colleagues in RTÉ.
“But our immediate thoughts are with her family today, at this time of great shock and mourning.”
Tom McGuire, Head of RTE Radio 1, said: “Marian Finucane was a defining voice for RTE Radio 1, and for the nation. Her work on Liveline was without parallel, where she merged an unsurpassed journalistic vigour with a flair for debate and discussion unmatched among her peers.
“As the voice of weekends, she parsed the stories of the day, tackling big interviews with ease and insight.
“Her loss is a deep shock to all of us, and our thoughts are with Marian’s family at this time.”
The cause of death is not yet known.