'At his best he's irreplaceable' - Viewers shocked by reports Vincent Browne will 'sign off for last time'
Fans of Vincent Browne's long-running political show have reacted with dismay to reports that he will soon sign off for the last time.
The journalist, who has presented TV3's late-night current affairs programme, Tonight With Vincent Browne, since 2007, will front his last show at the end of the month.
Despite its 11pm starting time, the programme is one of TV3's most popular shows and has repeatedly made headline news thanks to Browne's regular run-ins with guests.
Described as Ireland's answer to Jeremy Paxman, he is well respected in the media and is renowned for his tough style of interviewing.
The broadcaster, who turns 73 this month, has struggled with health problems and has previously taken time off.
In June 2014, he was admitted to St Vincent's Hospital after a bout of pneumonia.
A source said he was "worn out and completely drained".
As a result, he had to take leave from the programme for the whole summer in order to recover properly.
He was forced to take more time off in February last year, meaning he played no part in TV3's general election coverage. At the time, he said: "I've got to deal with a respiratory health problem and I've got to take time off, unfortunately, over the next while during the election."
I find it sad that one of the only journalists in Ireland, Vincent Browne, who actually holds politicians to account is retiring. #vinb— Simon (@SociusCriminis) July 2, 2017
He also had a famously fractious relationship with former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who refused to take part in any debate chaired by him.
Mr Kenny attributed his decision to comments made by the journalist about suicide in 2010.
"Vincent Browne on his television programme advised that I, as leader of my party, should take a bottle of whiskey, a gun and go into a dark room," he said.
"I have been in hundreds of homes around this country where the tragedy of suicide inflicted pain and stress on many families.
"I will not participate on any programme that Vincent Browne has anything to do with."
News that the broadcaster is gearing up to present his last show broke over the weekend, sparking a wave of dismay on social media, with fans lamenting his reported departure.
Neither TV3 nor Browne have responded to reports of his quitting.
However, speculation now surrounds who will step into his shoes, with former politician Ivan Yates one of the front-runners.
The Newstalk presenter has previously fronted the show for Browne while he was on leave and is due to return to his Dublin base in September.