Leading TV journalist Aideen Kennedy passes away

News veteran made plea to her followers and fans to look out for her young children

UTV presenter Aideen Kennedy

John Toner

Popular TV presenter Aideen Kennedy has died shortly after announcing she had a terminal illness on social media and asking people to “keep an eye out” for her children.

A familiar face on UTV news bulletins over the years, the 43-year-old revealed she was receiving palliative care in a Twitter post on Friday morning and died later that night.

In her final social media post the well-liked journalist, who had been hospitalised recently, made a heartrending plea to her followers to look out for her young children after her death.

“So life has not gone well and I am as sick as I was as when I went into hospital so essentially going home to die but getting palliative care,” she said.

“The kids know. If you ever come across them, will you keep an eye out for them, they are the kindest, sweetest most thoughtful kiddies.”

Her former employer UTV issued a statement yesterday describing her as a gifted journalist and offering sympathy to her family. A spokeswoman said: “The UTV family is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former colleague and friend Aideen Kennedy. A truly gifted reporter, she spent many years at UTV bringing viewers stories from all over Northern Ireland. We wish to extend our heartfelt sympathies to her family at this very sad time.”

Following Aideen’s announcement about her prognosis on social media, there was an outpouring of love and sympathy from her friends, former colleagues and followers.

Aideen was one of four siblings and the fourth to die young. She is survived by her two children Jacob and Eva, as well as her parents Noel and Maura.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in 2019, Aideen spoke about the tragedies that had befallen her brothers and sister.

She lost her older sister Fiona to cancer in 2016, less than a year after her younger brother Dara died from a brain tumour.

“I grew up in Belfast. It was me, my parents — Dad was an engineer and Mum was a teacher — my big sister Fiona and my younger brother Dara,” she said.

“Both Fiona and Dara have passed away in recent years — Fiona was 44 and Dara was just 35 — they were my best friends growing up.

“I had another brother, Rory, who was killed in a road accident when he was just one year old. We talked about him all the time growing up.

“Seamus Heaney’s Mid-Term Break reminds me of my brother Rory.

“The line, ‘I saw him for the first time in six weeks. Paler now, wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,’ always stuck with me.

“My mum said Rory just looked like an angel and you really wouldn’t have known anything had happened, apart from the bruise. I remember a teacher reading that poem out when I was in first or second year and it immediately made me think of him.

Aideen said she would “never forget her gentle and kind siblings” and spoke of her belief that they were “looking down on her family every day”.

“I think they are looking down on me and I hope they are proud. I see little signs. When I get myself into a state about some things and anxious about things. I think, in the larger scheme of things, ‘Does this really matter?’ I have become more chilled out and relaxed. Because the worst has happened already. It has given me a different perspective on things.

“My mum Maura and dad Noel are the strongest and loveliest people I know.

“With my mum being a teacher and my dad originally from Argentina, the nature of our family has always had the kids at the forefront. We’re just very people-orientated as a family. We were a very close family and we did a lot together.” In the same interview, Aideen paid tribute to her parents, who survive all of their four children, saying they had the biggest influence on her life.

She said: “They have been through so much, having lost three of their children, but they refuse to let life overtake them.

“They are funny, loving and supportive and enjoy everything life has to offer.

“They’re champion bridge players. And while I don’t massively approve of them going to play bridge all around the world because my nerves are shot when they are gallivanting, I really admire their attitude to life.

“It’s gone from them worrying about me having fun at university, to me worrying about them and saying, ‘No more bridge, no more travelling, go to bed!’”

In a statement last night, Belfast radio station U105, where she worked for a period, tweeted: “Our thoughts and prayers this evening are with the family of our former colleague Aideen Kennedy. Aideen was a member of our news team on the station over a number of years. May she rest in peace.”

DUP MLA Emma Little-Pengelly said she was “absolutely devastated” about the death of her beautiful, funny, kind friend”.

“I will miss her terribly,” she tweeted, “We met 22 years ago when we shared a room for the summer in DC and became firm friends. Goodbye beautiful girl.”

Alliance Councillor Sian Mulholland tweeted: “My God, how can one family endure so much? My heart absolutely breaks for Aideen’s parents who have now had to say goodbye to their four children. Life can be so exceptionally cruel.”

SDLP Councillor Séamas de Faoite said he was “heartbroken” to have learned of her death. “Mam babysat Aideen, Dara and Fiona for years when they were kids. Aideen was such a bright light who had been through so much.”