Northern Ireland

Tributes paid to veteran broadcaster David Dunseith

Tributes have been paid to veteran journalist David Dunseith who has died. With a career in broadcasting spanning four decades, the broadcaster is most closely associated with BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme, which he presented for almost 20 years.

Wendy Austin, Talkback presenter and colleague

"I'm so sorry to hear the news. David was a fantastic broadcaster. His immediately recognisable voice was known and loved in so many homes in Northern Ireland and further afield. As his successor on Talkback, I'm only too aware that it's a challenging programme.

"David carried it off with aplomb and friend and foe alike regarded him with respect. All of us who worked with him knew how devastated he was by the loss of his beloved wife Roisin.

"It was typical of David that despite his own illness and grief he kept on broadcasting for as long as he could. We will all miss him."

Gerry Anderson, BBC Radio Ulster presenter

"David Dunseith was a consummate gentleman and was one of the finest of broadcasters I had the privilege to know. I'm so very sorry to hear that he has passed away."

Peter Johnston, Director of BBC Northern Ireland

"David was a unique broadcasting talent in Northern Ireland. As host of the iconic programme Talkback, he became a true legend of the airwaves and was much loved by listeners from all walks of life.

"He conducted interviews in a searching and robust manner, always with courtesy and good humour. We honour his contribution to the success of one of our flagship programmes.

"He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and loyal audiences who he has served for the best part of his life. Our thoughts are with his family on this sad occasion."

Mark Thompson, Director General

"David Dunseith served BBC audiences in Northern Ireland with distinction throughout some of the most difficult and contentious years of its history.

"For 20 years, David provided a safe platform for people to air their views and appreciate the perspectives of others.

"He did this with tenacity, encyclopaedic knowledge and patience; putting the audience at the heart of his programme and winning loyalty and respect from all sides of the community. He will be greatly missed by all at the BBC."

Peter Robinson, First Minister

"It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of David Dunseith who was one of our greatest broadcasters.

"David was the consummate professional. His remarkable twenty-year tenure of the Talkback programme was testament to his powerful interview techniques and his wonderful journalistic instinct.

"David's passing is a great loss to the world of journalism and to Northern Ireland and I would like to pass my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones."

Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister

"I am deeply saddened at the news of David's death. Over the last twenty years, perhaps the most difficult years in our history, David was for me, and I am sure many others, quite simply the voice of radio here.

"David's remarkable talents made Talkback unmissable not just for those in the political world but for everyone who had an interest in getting to the heart of the issue.

"To his family and loved ones I offer my deepest condolences."

Owen Paterson, Secretary of State

"He established an extraordinary reputation and was respected right across the community for the manner in which he carried out his interviews.

"He was known to be a real professional and I think he leaves a real hole in broadcasting, but he has shown the way for other broadcasters."

Margaret Ritchie, SDLP leader

"David Dunseith was a constituent and a journalist of great acumen and insight, but he was much more than that.

"He was the voice of reason and reasonableness through some of the darkest years we have known, he was the calming voice when tensions were high, when he could calm people so that they could talk to each other.

"He will be greatly missed by everyone in political life."

Tom Elliott, UUP leader

"David Dunseith made a massive contribution to political broadcasting in Northern Ireland, and on behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party I would like to pay tribute to him.

"He was a hugely respected broadcaster and journalist who commented on local events for 40 years, including the darkest days of the Troubles. Whilst David enjoyed a long and very successful broadcasting career he will be forever remembered for his 20 year stint on the BBC Talkback programme which saw him build up a large and loyal following.

"He could always be relied upon to entertain and inform and will be sorely missed."

Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein president

"David Dunseith was the consummate broadcaster and interviewer. He was thoughtful and insightful in all that he did.

"David interviewed me many times and I always found him to be professional and very fair. His death is a significant loss to journalism.

"I want to extend to his family and many friends my sincerest condolences. Go ndeanfaid trocaire a anam."

Seamus Close, former Alliance MLA

"He was the people's Prime Minister. He was the person who was in charge.

"Most of the stories he had to deal with were about blood and guts and he had to deal with that for an hour and a half a day, five days a week. He was able to relate to people in such a wonderful way.

"He was a star and a legend."

David McKittrick, commentator

"I worked as a producer for a couple of years with Dunseith. You just knew he was so authoritative and versatile, he could do anything. He would rise to the big occasions and the small occasions.

"What I mean is, I remember a very distinguished minister of religion he was interviewing. The guy was talking very articulately and then all of a sudden he stopped making sense and started making strange noises. Dunseith brought the interview to a dignified close. We were all wondering what had gone wrong and we later discovered the minister's dentures had broken in his mouth.

"I remember saying: 'Well done, thanks for getting us out of that'. And he said: "That's what I am for. The routine stuff is easy enough. It's coping with the unexpected, that is why they hire me.'"

Malachi O'Doherty, writer and journalist

"He had a sense of knowing the audience. He used to go for a walk around town after the programme on his own to bump into people.

"People would stop him in the street. They would accost him about something that was on the programme and he would have a chat with them. That was part of the persona he had on air."