Thursday 23 January 2020

RTE broadcaster Marian Finucane dies suddenly

RTE Radio presenter Marian Finucane at City West Hotel.
Photo: Tony Gavin 21/2/08
RTE Radio presenter Marian Finucane at City West Hotel. Photo: Tony Gavin 21/2/08
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

Highly respected RTE broadcaster Marian Finucane has died, aged 69.

She passed away today at her home in Naas.

Ms Finucane’s Saturday show on RTE Radio 1 was one of the most listened to radio programmes in the country with a listenership of 363,000 in 2019.

Her show featured interviews, human interest stories, consumer and lifestyle news as well as panel discussions on issues of the week.

A career in radio: Marian Finucane in her early days with RTÉ
A career in radio: Marian Finucane in her early days with RTÉ
Ground-breaking: Marian Finucane in her element, the radio studio from where she helped to change attitudes
Broadcaster Marian Finucane with husband John Clarke and son Jack after she was conferred with an honorary doctorate by DIT in 2002. Photo: Tom Burke
Pictured: RTÉ broadcaster Marian Finucane and Nuala O'Faolain in Nairobi, Kenya where they were covering the 1985 United Nations Decade for Women Conference for RTÉ.
Marian Finucane
Marian Finucane
‘Zeal for breaking new ground’: Marian Finucane was a household name with thousands of listeners tuning in to her RTÉ shows. Photo: Tony Gavin
Marian Finucane on the Late Late in 1991
Marian Finucane with husband John Clarke after they were married in 2015. Photo: Frank McGrath
Marian Finucane with Maeve Binchy at an Irish Hospice Foundation event. Photo: Jim O'Kelly
Marian visting an orphanage in South Africa
Voice of reason: Marian Finucane smiles after receiving the PPI Outstanding Achievement Award in 2008. Photo: Jason Clarke Photography
15/11/11 Marian Finucane at the launch of her book The Saturday Interviews 2005-2011 . Pictures:Arthur Carron/Collins
Finucane M 8.4.10 0011 Marian Finucane
Taoiseach Enda Kenny,TD and broadcaster Marian Finucane at the launch the Irish Hospice Foundation's 2016 Commemorative and 30th anniversary programme held in the Stephens Green Club yesterday. Pic Tom Burke 3/12/2015
Former Irish International footballer Niall Quinn and boadcaster Marian Finucane who were conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) at their annual conferring of Honorary degrees at a ceremony held in the Royal hospital,Kilmainham yesterday...Pic Tom Burke 26/11/02
Marian Finucane
Marian Finucane

Each of her programmes began with Ms Finucane's signature tune, followed by her iconic phrase: “Hello there, and a very good-morning to you!”

The household name is survived by her husband, John Clarke and son, Jack. Their daughter, Sinead tragically passed away in 1990 at the age of eight after developing leukaemia.

RTE Radio presenter Marian Finucane at City West Hotel.
Photo: Tony Gavin 21/2/08
RTE Radio presenter Marian Finucane at City West Hotel. Photo: Tony Gavin 21/2/08

In a statement, RTE Director General Dee Forbes said they were shocked and saddened at the news.

Marian was a broadcaster of immense capability; a household name, she was first and foremost a tenacious journalist with a zeal for breaking new ground. From Women Today to Liveline to her weekday radio show on Radio 1 and, latterly, her enormously popular Saturday and Sunday radio programme, she tackled the big social issues of the day with command and insight," Ms Forbes said.

"Multi-skilled, she forged a distinguished career on television, as well as undertaking significant charity work in Africa. Ireland has lost a unique voice. RTÉ has lost a beloved colleague. My sincere and heartfelt sympathies to her husband John and son Jack," she added.

Head of Radio at RTE, Tom McGuire said:

“Marian Finucane was a defining voice for RTE Radio 1, and for the nation. Her work on Liveline was without parallel, where she merged an unsurpassed journalistic vigour with a flair for debate and discussion unmatched among her peers.

"As the voice of weekends, she parsed the stories of the day, tackling big interviews with ease and insight. Her loss is a deep shock to all of us, and our thoughts are with Marian’s family at this time.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described her as “a true broadcasting legend who reshaped current affairs radio”.

“Ireland will miss her voice. Weekend mornings will never be quite the same again,” he said.

Marian Finucane Blck+whi.jpg
Marian Finucane Blck+whi.jpg

In a statement issued on social media, Mr Varadkar said he spent many hours in the studio with her.

“She was thorough, courteous and professional. I’m very sad to think that we won’t hear her voice again on the radio.”

The Taoiseach offered the “deepest sympathies” of the Government to her family, friends and colleagues.

President Michael D Higgins described Ms Finucane as a "deeply trusted broadcaster".

"Having started her career with RTÉ in 1974, Marian Finucane had become a central part of Irish broadcasting life, covering its events, its personalities, its changes and its tribulations," he said.

"A superb professional, many will remember the wisdom and sensitivity with which Marian Finucane dealt with discussions and confrontations between different voices on what were controversial issues of the day.

"She was one of the very early exemplars to those who sought a proper representation of women in broadcasting.

"There will be many, in every part of Irish life, who will miss Marian’s voice, but of course her loss is felt most acutely by her family and friends."

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