Friday 18 October 2019

'He sent me a very warm, embracing text and I thought there's a real depth to Vincent' - Mary O'Rourke pays tribute to 'complex' Vincent Browne

Tonight with Vincent Browne wraps on TV3 on Thursday night

In the chair: Vincent Browne is quitting his TV3 show with a year left on his contract
In the chair: Vincent Browne is quitting his TV3 show with a year left on his contract

Former Fianna Fáil politician Mary O'Rourke has paid tribute to her 'friend' Vincent Browne as he prepares to leave TV3 after a decade fronting Tonight With Vincent Browne.

The current affairs panel show boasted several dramatic exchanges between Browne and various politicians and journalists, not least a tense on-air spat with O'Rourke's nephew Conor Lenihan.

Speaking to Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio 1 on Wednesday ahead of Browne's penultimate show, she said the incident "showed up the best characteristics of both of them".

"Neither was going to give way," she said of the confrontation.  "I know Conor so well and I also know Vincent Browne so well and they were there going hammer and tongs.  Who won the bout?  I don't know.  You couldn't decide who won.  It was one of the better ones.  I was gobsmacked looking at it."

Ms O'Rourke revealed she had encountered Browne regularly right from his days on radio through to his hugely popular show on TV3.

Former Fianna Fáil politician Mary O'Rourke

"I remember coming in so often right through my rookie days in the Dail, then my days as a Minister, then my days in opposition, then as a Minister again, then losing the seat," she said.

"I remember coming so many nights from TV3 seething and saying never again will I go on that programme and then the siren would call and the Pied Piper would come a couple of weeks later and out I'd go, another lamb for the slaughter," she said.

"We didn't so much have a slaughter between us - he gave up on slaughtering me.  Maybe it was a case of gallantry coming to the fore.  We ended up good friends."

She added, "There was so much good in him and so much that wasn't good and I suppose at a time like this when he's leaving the good overcomes you a bit and you say what a great broadcaster he was.  It's very easy to say there won't be another like him but there genuinely won't be another like him in the broadcasting sphere."

Vincent Browne will face off with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tonight ahead of final show 

She joked, "What are we going to do at 11 o'clock every night?  I'm open for offers!"

Speaking about the time her sister-in-law died, O'Rourke revealed that Vincent had reached out to her.

"He sent me a text, a very warm, embracing kind of a text and I thought to myself there's a real depth to Vincent that I hadn't thought about before.  He is a complex individual."

Regarding his next move, she said he's "not at all finished" as he's writing a book about the late Charlie Haughey.

"There is no doubt that he has a lot of information and I would think he is not going to sit it out in south Dublin looking out at the weather and talking nonsensical things - he's going to put that [brain] to use now," she said.

Fights, camera, action: Vincent Browne calls it a day 

"Both of them fell under one another's spell.  Charlie was in his last number of months and Vincent had curbed down the wildness in him and they found a meeting point.  They exchanged lots of talk and secrets and facts and all of that so I very much look forward to reading [the book]. 

"He had a brain and an intelligence.  You knew you were dealing with somebody who wasn't just a fly by night."

Also speaking to Sean O'Rourke, Irish Independent columnist Gerry O'Regan joked he "couldn't possibly add to the beatification" of Browne but added that he would like to "wish him well" and said "many people will acknowledge Vincent Browne is one of the most outstanding journalists of our era and our generation".

'Stop haranguing me!' - 6 memorable moments from Tonight with Vincent Browne 

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