Radio show to pay tribute to Marian Finucane

The Marian Finucane Show will today be a celebration of the late presenter’s career, RTÉ has announced.

Radio show to pay tribute to Marian Finucane

The Marian Finucane Show will today be a celebration of the late presenter’s career, RTÉ has announced.

Rachel English will assume hosting duties for today’s programme, while Brendan O’Connor — a regular stand-in presenter for Ms Finucane — will chair the show tomorrow.

The announcement of the short-term plans for Ms Finucane’s show comes as tributes continued to flow for the presenter who died on Thursday, aged 69.

RTÉ’s head of radio, Tom McGuire told the Today with Seán O’Rourke show that Ms Finucane’s colleges learned of her death when they phoned her to discuss today’s programme, as they did every Thursday.

“There was no reply from Marian’s mobile. We didn’t think anything untoward at the time, we would just check back later. And then the call was repeated at sometime after half past three and her dear husband John answered Marian’s phone, and it was then discovered that Marian had died in her sleep,” Mr McGuire said.

Former president Mary Robinson was among those to add to the tributes to Ms Finucane yesterday.

She told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that Marian Finucane had an empathy and commanding tone and the questions she asked were astute and very honest.

She had an amazing capacity to draw people out. It’s a skill to be a great listener.

Ms Robinson said that the Women Today programme had spoken out on issues for the first time which had been a very courageous thing to do, such as the story when Ms Finucane accompanied an Irish woman who went to the UK to have an abortion.

“That was something people didn’t want to listen to.” Her interview with Nuala O Faolain had been very significant and must have helped a lot of people, she said.

“Nobody else could have done that interview.”

“She was important because she was a trailblazer, she was honest. She always moved agendas, she just went on blazing that trail, she wasn’t afraid of Church or State,” Ms Robinson said.

The National Union of Journalists, of which Ms Finucane was a member, said she was recognised as a pioneer of Irish broadcasting.

“Marian Finucane was a pioneering broadcaster of grace, style, wisdom and good humour while her outstanding characteristic was her deep empathy. In her work in RTÉ she paved the way for a generation of women who felt excluded from journalism,” Séamus Dooley, assistant general secretary said.

RTÉ broadcaster Bryan Dobson signs the book of condolence for Marian Finucane at RTÉ Radio centre. Picture: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
RTÉ broadcaster Bryan Dobson signs the book of condolence for Marian Finucane at RTÉ Radio centre. Picture: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

“Marian also brought women in from the margins and firmly altered public discourse on a range of social and economic issues, not least gender discrimination and the appalling inequalities which existed in Ireland when she began her broadcasting career.

Committed to the values of public service broadcasting she was forensic in her interviewing techniques, never feeling the need to hector but always ready to challenge guests who tried to evade her questions.

“While committed to social justice and progressive reform she was always mindful of her obligations as a broadcaster and was widely respected for her fairness as an interviewer.

“Marian was a member of the NUJ throughout her professional career. She is remembered for her kindness and courtesy, especially to young journalists and researchers but also to panellists and reviewers on her radio show,” he said.

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern told Newstalk Breakfast that the Marian Finucane programme “was a programme you would go on because you felt you got a good opportunity to state your case.

Marian Finucane: Tributes continue to pour in for the popular presenter who died on Thursday, aged 69.
Marian Finucane: Tributes continue to pour in for the popular presenter who died on Thursday, aged 69.

“You always felt you would be allowed to develop your point, you could tease things out to the listening audience. You would be allowed to answer,” said Mr Ahern.

“In difficult times, the programme to go on was Marian’s. She had that calm voice. You could clearly see that she was following an issue all week, she had a deep knowledge of issues, she sounded all relaxed, but she was tremendously detailed,” he said.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said his abiding memory of Marian Finucane was of her studio desk covered in newspapers, and that he wondered how order could come from something that looked so chaotic, but it always did.

She had a deep fluency, a great work ethic and a professional attitude, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“She reminded me of how much we have changed as a country.”

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