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'Formidable', 'mischievous': Tributes paid to Sean O'Rourke as he retires from RTÉ

The RTÉ presenter remembered his exchange with Donald Trump: “Sean I thought you were one of the good guys! But you brought up the hair!”
May 8th 2020, 12:04 PM 25,804 40

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid to RTÉ radio presenter Sean O’Rourke, who retires from RTÉ today ahead of his 65th birthday.

The first half of his final Today with Sean O’Rourke show featured an interview with Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan and announced the cancellation of the National Ploughing Championship.

Remembering some of his best moments, O’Rourke recalled his interview with US businessman Donald Trump in 2014, where he asked Trump about his hair.

Today, O’Rourke was reminded that Trump was unhappy with the question, and said to him after the programme:

Sean! I thought you were one of the good guys! But you brought up the hair!

Trump would later refer to O’Rourke as an “asshole” in an interview with the Sunday Independent for asking him about his hair.

When O’Rourke later met Trump on a gold course, he told him that there was no such thing as a bad question, “just bad answers”.

“And he stood and watched us drive off and he admired my drive,” O’Rourke said.

Political tributes

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar lead tributes from politicians to O’Rourke this morning, describing him as a presenter with “a very mischievous sense of humour”. 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that when being interviewed by O’Rourke, “one would always feel a trap door could open up at any moment”, adding that he is an “outstanding public service broadcaster with an iconic voice”, and has a “consistency with standards”.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said he was “a very formidable interviewer”. 

Former finance minister Michael Noonan said that “he’s going to be a big loss, I’m hoping he will reappear as a broadcaster”.

Former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said that he felt O’Rourke listened to what he was being told “with a twinkle in his eye”.  

Marie Louise O’Donnell said that he was a brilliant listener-presenter. O’Rourke said that his job was easy because “I didn’t have to do anything but listen”. 

“I’m wearing my This Week tie,” he said, adding that there was only 100 made for the programme, which O’Rourke said was where he was “happiest in all my [31] years here”.

O’Rourke said that “a great Galway woman” Sarah McInerney would be presenting the programme at the same time next week, and would be supported by the same team that has supported him.

“We need to get over ourselves a bit,” he said in response to a message that asked what we would do without Sean O’Rourke on the airways anymore.

Giving thanks to colleagues and friends, O’Rourke said “I was a bit homesick when I moved across from the newsroom to the radio centre”. He thanked his fellow presenters for welcoming him and working with him down the years.

“Guys, you know how important you’ve all been, and I cannot thank enough. Nor can I thank my family enough.”

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Gráinne Ní Aodha

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