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Instantly likeable and larger than life

EUGENE Moloney was a big guy, both in stature and in his larger-than-life personality.

He was an instantly likeable character, with a disarming smile and a bear-hug greeting for those of us he regarded as friends, which could literally take your breath away.

Fearless in the pursuit of a story, Eugene had a healthy cynicism for those in authority, with an in-built radar that detected even the hint of "spin".

He had what us old hacks call "a good nose for a story" but he had an independent streak that was often infuriating to those on the various news desks, tasked with delivering the stories on a particular day.

Often he would be dispatched to report on a specific story, decide half-way through the event that there was a better or more interesting angle, and off he would go in his own direction. Most times he was right.

Eugene and I worked together on countless occasions during the violence in Northern Ireland and, unlike many of us, he would actually volunteer to cover the annual Drumcree Orange parade, which for years caused such mayhem and upheaval across the North.

The signing of the Good Friday Agreement was just one other occasion when Eugene's tireless dedication to his work was so clearly evident. He seemed to thrive on the long hours, which left most of us wilting and rather envious of his enduring good humour.

Away from journalism, Eugene's great passions in life were music and travel. Not for him lying on a beach -- he had a far more adventurous streak, with trips that included Cambodia, Vietnam and Cuba.

I was proud to call Eugene Moloney a friend from as far back as his days on the reporting staff of the 'Irish News' in Belfast. His death is a dreadful shock. And Irish journalism is a poorer place today with the passing of this colourful, loyal and talented colleague.

Irish Independent