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'A smile that could light up a room' - tributes as RTÉ's Keelin Shanley dies after illness

President laments popular RTE broadcaster who brought great dedication to her work

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Keelin Shanley

Keelin Shanley

DRIVEN AND COMMITTED: Keelin Shanley with fellow RTE ‘Six One News’ presenter Caitriona Perry

DRIVEN AND COMMITTED: Keelin Shanley with fellow RTE ‘Six One News’ presenter Caitriona Perry

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Keelin Shanley

Tributes have poured in to RTE broadcaster Keelin Shanley who has died peacefully nine years after first being diagnosed with breast cancer.

In 2011, the award-winning RTE journalist revealed she had been diagnosed with the disease and had undergone a mastectomy.

Ms Shanley, who was 51, is survived by her husband Conor and two children, Ben and Lucy.

Her death yesterday comes two years after Ms Shanley was announced as the new presenter of RTE's Six One News, alongside former Washington correspondent Caitriona Perry.

President Michael D Higgins led the tributes, saying: "People all over Ireland will have been greatly saddened by the news of the death of Keelin."

He described Ms Shanley as "driven by a strong commitment to social justice" and he added that she "brought great professionalism and dedication to her work".

Also paying his respects, Jon Williams, managing director of RTE News & Current Affairs, reflected on her positivity and willingness to embrace life despite her diagnosis.

He said: "The fact that [Keelin] presented our flagship Six One News while dealing with cancer is inspirational in itself and so typical of her determination to live life to the full."

He described how Ms Shanley had "worked through chemo and treatment" when first diagnosed in 2011 on polling day, saying: "When it returned, she did so again - defying pain to present Six One, determined to live life to the full, until no longer possible to do so."

He added that the presenter had a smile which "could light up a room" and said she had battled the disease "with the same equanimity and good humour [she] brought to everything else".

The presenter had previously worked on Prime Time for over a decade, News at One on RTE Radio 1, and Crimecall on RTE One.

She grew up in Monkstown and studied biochemistry in Trinity College Dublin, going on to become a valued part of RTE's current affairs news team. Following her degree, she worked as a researcher in the Department of Pharmacology in the University of Bologna, before switching to journalism in the late 1990s to present a number of science and technology television and radio shows.

Working as a reporter and presenter with RTE's flagship current affairs television programme Prime Time over 10 years, she made a number of award-winning documentaries.

Her work covered issues in health inequality, cocaine abuse, homelessness, people trafficking, deportations and teenage criminality and resulted in Ms Shanley winning three IFTA awards, a National Media Award, a Radharc award and a Justice Media award.

Ms Shanley also reported from a number of developing countries for the Far Away Up Close strand, including documentaries on the plight of child soldiers in the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda and the rebuilding of Liberia.

In more recent times, she presented Morning Edition, The Consumer Show and The Irish Book Awards on RTE One. She also worked as a radio presenter across several programmes on RTE Radio 1: Morning Ireland; News at One; Today with Sean O'Rourke; and Late Debate.

And she had experience corresponding for Radio France International and for CNN World Report.

Speaking this weekend, RTE director-general Dee Forbes said: "Everybody at RTE is deeply saddened by the passing of our colleague and friend."

Ms Forbes described Ms Shanley as "a passionate and dedicated" journalist and said she had "an expertise that challenged and probed as well as an ease that endeared her to all".

Sunday Independent