Talkback's David Dunseith 'gave Disappeared a voice'

The daughter of one of the Disappeared has paid tribute to David Dunseith, who died on Wednesday, for giving "a voice" to victims' families.

Helen McKendry's mother, Jean McConville, was abducted and killed by the IRA in 1972. Her body was found in 2003.

Mrs Kendry gave the first interview about her family's ordeal on Radio UIster's Talkback programme.

She paid tribute to Mr Dunseith, as the man "who gave the Disappeared a voice".

Mr Dunseith's broadcasting career spanned four decades, but he is most closely associated with Talkback, which he presented for almost 20 years.

Speaking on the programme on Friday, Mrs McKendry said she would never had the courage to speak up without his encouragement.

"I was very frightened. People had known there were people who had disappeared, but they were too afraid to speak," she said.

"David came to my home. He was the first person who listened to me speak and helped me when I needed it."

The first and deputy first ministers have also paid tribute to the broadcaster.

First Minister Peter Robinson said he was a "consummate professional" and "one of our greatest broadcasters".

Image caption David Dunseith presented Talkback from 1989 to 2009

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he made Talkback "unmissable".

"David was for me, and I am sure many others, quite simply the voice of radio here," he added.

Through some of the darkest days of the Northern Ireland troubles and in the absence of a local political assembly, Talkback provided a forum for debate where no other existed.

Mr Dunseith retired from BBC NI this year.

He ended his career on Radio Ulster presenting Seven Days on Sunday afternoons.

Mr Dunseith began his career in UTV, anchoring the nightly news programme UTV Reports.

He later joined BBC Northern Ireland as a political journalist and analyst, presenting the television current affairs programme Spotlight and chairing programmes dealing with major events such as elections.

He became a regular contributor to Talkback when it first went on air in 1986 and in 1989 he became its presenter.

He won 'Local Broadcaster of the Year' in 1993 at the Sony Awards for his role in the programme.

BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme won a Gold Sony Award in 1997 for Best Phone-in/Topical Debate.

The programme also won a Silver Sony Award in 2006 in the News & Current Affairs programme category.

Talk Back on BBC Radio Ulster will be paying a special tribute to David on Friday's programme from 1200 BST.

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