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From Maria Bailey to Donald Trump's hair: Seán's best bits on-air

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Sean O'Rourke has been working in RTÉ since 1989

Sean O'Rourke has been working in RTÉ since 1989

Sean O'Rourke has been working in RTÉ since 1989

With his razor-sharp intellect and comprehensive grasp on current affairs, Seán O'Rourke has provided some of the most memorable radio moments over the past seven years.

Whether it's probing top politicians on the burning issues of the day or interviewing a celebrity on their fall from grace, his interview style is always thorough, occasionally combative but never cruel. He could either make - or break - a person's career and always had an innate knowledge of when to stay silent and provide the proverbial rope that allowed his interviewee to finish off the job themselves.

Some of his top moments include his jaw-dropping interview with former Fine Gael politician Maria Bailey in the wake of the 'Swing-gate' controversy that left listeners choking on their cornflakes.

In what was lauded a masterclass in interviewing technique, he left her floundering for words after quizzing her repeatedly on the exact details of that night out. He then delved into her running a 10km race three weeks later and running a "pretty good time" (53 minutes, 56 seconds) to which she quipped memorably: "Not for me."

She ended the interview in a terse fashion by stating she was "drawing a line in the sand on this today and I am moving on". The controversy rumbled on for months.

Another memorable encounter was with Donald Trump in his Doonbeg golf course in May 2014, prior to his election as US president.

Asked whether it bothered him that people made jokes about his hair, Mr Trump appeared to brush the questions aside on-air. He insisted that he didn't wear a hair piece and seemed to take the quizzing in good faith.

Afterwards, there was an off-air exchange but Mr Trump insisted in a newspaper interview he was "not angry". "It was not a nice interview. I told him, 'You're an a**hole!' Essentially that," he said.

On June 17, 2019, it was the turn of former garda Majella Moynihan to lift the lid in a poignant interview with O'Rourke on the injustices meted out to her by the State.

After entering An Garda Síochána, she got pregnant from a relationship with a fellow recruit. There was an internal inquiry and she was chastised for having a baby out of wedlock. She gave him up for adoption and suffered depression for years afterwards.

Irish Independent