Belfast Telegraph

Deep sense of shock at RTE over death of top radio host Finucane

Broadcaster Marian Finucane
Broadcaster Marian Finucane

By Aoife Walsh

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

The radio presenter passed away on Thursday at the age of 69. Colleagues said she died in her sleep.

She hosted weekend programmes on RTE Radio 1 for almost two decades and was the first presenter of the popular Liveline programme.

Tom McGuire, head of RTE Radio 1, 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 RTE Radio 1 yesterday.

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

"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."

A woman signs a book of condolence at RTE Radio Centre in Donnybrook, Dublin, for broadcaster Marian Finucane
A woman signs a book of condolence at RTE Radio Centre in Donnybrook, Dublin, for broadcaster Marian Finucane

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 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 tomorrow 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 and friends visited RTE'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 said: "I'm here to sign the book of condolence.

"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."

Director of content Jim Jennings said that Ms Finucane's passing is a "huge loss" to staff at RTE.

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

"Coming off the back of Gay Byrne's bereavement (in early November), 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 had worked with her.

"Our thoughts are with her friends, her family and her colleagues."

Belfast Telegraph


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