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Sorry Claire, but I'm so glad feisty Marian is back on air

I HAVE been a three-week supporter of the radio/telly/newspaper-column-people who stand in for other radio/telly/newspaper-column-people when they go on holiday. So I hope Claire Byrne won't take offence when I say how happy I was to hear Marian Finucane back on the radio over the weekend.

There are seriously so many things that irk me about Marian. Two stand out. Her voice is frequently difficult to follow, registering as it does notes that reverberate at two different, pitches. And she seems to really dig rich, powerful people. And, of course, she gets paid more per minute than Beyonce. But as her stormy two minute-encounter yesterday on RTE R1 with Senator Ronan Mullen, showed, she was put on the big money for a reason.

Senator Mullen, an enthusiastic Catholic, having criticised Enda Kenny's "scattergun" speech on the Vatican's response to Cloyne in July, accused Marian of "ratcheting up the outrage" and having an "unconscious agenda'. She was having none of it.

Marian Finucane: "I most certainly do not."

Senator Ronan Mullen: "I think you have."

Finucane: "But I will put it to you very bluntly... I have an agenda, actually, about protecting young children, and not doing cover-ups."

Mullen: "And we all do Marian."

Finucane: "And you call that an agenda."

Mullen: "Well no I'll tell you what I call an agenda. It it is, it is a failure to look at the precise meaning of words and it is a failure to accept that sometimes innocent people get slated along with the guilty... Can I just make this closing point?"

Finucane: "Alright, no, you've made a lot of points."

Mullen: "Will you indulge me on this one?"

Finucane: "You've been talking now -- I've been watching the clock -- and you've been talking - "

Mullen: "You see you're annoyed with me now."

Finucane: "No. Sorry. Excuse me. I get annoyed with people all of the time, about all sorts of things, but I also try and give a fair track to other people on the programme."

And that's how it ended. Pay particular attention to Senator Mullen's needy wish at the end not to have offended Marian. She has that effect. Because she's worth it (sometimes).