Sunday 19 January 2020

'We were looking forward to having her back on air tomorrow' - Marian Finucane's death still hard to believe for colleagues

9 October 2008; RTE Radio presenter, Marian Finucane, who received the Phonographic Performance Ireland Annual Radio Outstanding Achievement Award. Picture credit; Damien Eagers...ABC
9 October 2008; RTE Radio presenter, Marian Finucane, who received the Phonographic Performance Ireland Annual Radio Outstanding Achievement Award. Picture credit; Damien Eagers...ABC
Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

Colleagues and friends of Marian Finucane have told of how her sudden death is still hard to believe.

Tom McGuire, head of RTÉ Radio One, said he learned of Ms Finucane’s passing after her husband, John Clarke, returned missed calls made to her mobile by co-workers on Thursday.

“She had a holiday in India where she had a friend’s wedding. She had been looking forward to it all through last year. We were looking forward to having her back on air tomorrow morning,” he told Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One yesterday.

“The normal process in that would be a check-call to go through the plan for the programme on Thursday afternoon.

03/01/2020 Bryan Dobson signs the book of condolence for Marian Finucane at RTE Radio centre in dublin today...Ö
A book of condolence for Marian Finucane was opened at RTE radio centre today...
Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
03/01/2020 Bryan Dobson signs the book of condolence for Marian Finucane at RTE Radio centre in dublin today...Ö A book of condolence for Marian Finucane was opened at RTE radio centre today... Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

“That was made around 3pm, and there was no reply from Marian’s mobile.

“We didn’t think anything untoward at the time, and that we’d check back later. Then the call was repeated some time after 3.30pm.

“Her dear husband, John, answered Marian’s phone. It was then we discovered Marian had died in her sleep. It’s just still unbelievable.”

He said Ms Finucane shared a “closer bond” with her show’s colleagues.

“Monday to Friday you’ve got other colleagues, you’ve got a bank of knowledge that you can share. Saturday morning there’s less support there. I think that probably meant that there’s a closer bond within the programme team,” he said.

‘The Marian Finucane Show’ will be presented by Rachael English this morning, and by Brendan O’Connor on Sunday morning. The special two-hour programme will feature tributes from friends and colleagues and will reflect on some highlights from Ms Finucane’s broadcasting career.

Meanwhile, fans, colleagues and friends visited RTÉ’s radio centre to sign a book of condolences for Ms Finucane yesterday.

Irish fashion designer Helen Steele said she grew up listening to Ms Finucane on the radio.

She told the Irish Independent: “I’m here to sign the book of condolences. Marian Finucane was an incredible inspiration to so many women my age. We grew up with her on the radio.

“She was a very brave and incredibly honest, intelligent journalist, who really, I thought, fought for the rights of women, and brought that to the media’s attention. She was also incredible during the time of the peace protest. She was an incredible woman, and may she rest in peace.”

RTÉ’s director of content Jim Jennings said Ms Finucane’s passing was a “huge loss” to staff at RTÉ.

“Marian has been a stalwart in the mainstay of our schedules for decades,” he said.

“Coming off the back of Gay Byrne’s bereavement, it’s a huge loss to all the staff here who worked with her and knew her very well.

“It’s a very sad time for her husband, John, and her son, Jack, and her family.

“It’s also a very sad time for everyone who worked with her. Our thoughts are with her friends, her family and her colleagues.

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