Byrne makes debut on Morning Ireland after Kavanagh exit

Niall O'Connor

SHE'S been the voice of late-night talk, but this week she became an early bird.

RTE host Claire Byrne was in the hot seat of radio's most listened-to show today - Morning Ireland.

Byrne, who previously presented Newstalk Breakfast, made her debut alongside Cathal Mac Coille today.

Speculation is now rife at the broadcaster that she could be asked to fill the vacancy caused by Aoife Kavanagh's departure in the wake of the Mission To Prey scandal.

Ms Kavanagh was promoted to presenter of the programme in October 2010, having joined Morning Ireland as a reporter in 1996. But her key role in the libellous Mission To Prey investigation led to her being taken off air before she formally resigned from RTE on May 4.

But her controversial exit is sure to fuel speculation that Morning Ireland bosses will look to Claire Byrne to become a permanent presenter on the show.

Sources say that radio bosses have been extremely impressed with her stints on The Late Debate and as a fill-in for Marian Finucane.

And with a major question mark still hanging over the fate of her TV slot -- the Daily Show -- RTE is keen to find a new role for Byrne.

Popular Morning Ireland anchor Aine Lawlor, who is battling cancer, is not due to return from sick leave until later in the year -- meaning Byrne could be installed on a more regular basis.