Shock for listeners as Aine reveals her battle with cancer
For 16 years she has been a voice of assurance and authority that thousands of people have woken up to -- going head-to-head with the nation's politicians as she holds them to account.
Now 'Morning Ireland' presenter Aine Lawlor faces the toughest battle of her life after it emerged that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
As the final show for the week came to a close yesterday morning, the mother of four broke the news to listeners that she was taking a break from the flagship show to undergo treatment for her condition.
"That's all from us for the week, and from me for a while, as I'm taking a break for medical treatment," Lawlor said.
"Thanks to all of you who have listened over the past, it's been, 16 years."
Last night, an RTE spokesman said: "We can confirm that RTE presenter Aine Lawlor is undergoing treatment for cancer. She will be continuing to work and is positive about the outcome.
"She would be grateful for privacy during this period."
The Irish Independent has learned that it was Lawlor's own decision to take a step back from 'Morning Ireland', due to the gruelling schedule of the early-morning programme, but that she will continue to present TV interview programme 'One to One' and do other work in RTE.
"Aine was keen that 'Morning Ireland' listeners knew what was going on but her illness is a private matter for her and her family," said an RTE source.
The veteran presenter has been behind the microphone for some of the most memorable interviews, including the cutting observation she made to presidential hopeful David Norris earlier this year when he tried to invoke the symposium of Plato to explain his views on pederasty -- and how it differed from paedophilia.
"But you are not running for election in ancient Greece. You are running for election in modern Ireland," Lawlor said. She also presented a rare Sunday edition of 'Morning Ireland' in December 2008 as the pork crisis engulfed the country.
In an interview with the Irish Independent in 2009, Lawlor talked about how the show's hours were tough on a social life, but worked well for balancing family life.
She is as well known among listeners for her tough approach to question-dodging politicians, as well as her soft on-air tone.
"Well, if someone doesn't have a clear message to communicate or there is something they don't want to communicate, then they might find being interviewed a tough experience," she added. "It's never personal." In another interview in October last year, she said: "I looked up the other day, the sun was on the Sugar Loaf, I could hear the horses two fields away, and I hadn't spoken to anyone in two hours -- it was better than a trip to the spa."
An RTE spokesman said that there were no plans to replace Ms Lawlor on 'Morning Ireland' and added that the three remaining hosts -- Rachael English, Cathal Mac Coille and Aoife Kavanagh -- would cover in her absence.