Republic of Ireland news

Eurovision winning songwriter Shay Healy dies aged 78

Shay Healy. Picture from RTE.

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has led tributes to Eurovision-winning songwriter Shay Healy - who helped end the political career of Charles Haughey.

A former RTÉ presenter from Dublin, he died aged 78 at St Vincent's University Hospital on Friday, 17 years after first having Parkinson's disease diagnosed.

Mr Healy began his career as a trainee cameraman and went on to present Nighthawks, a late night talk show which covered entertainment and current affairs.

In 1992, it aired an interview with former justice minister Sean Doherty about phone tapping.

This eventually led to the resignation of Mr Haughey as taoiseach.

President Higgins said news of Mr Healy's death "will have been heard with sadness by so many across the community of music and music-making in Ireland".

"Shay's talents extended across so many areas and continued, even when challenged by illness, into the modern decades," he said.

"His approach to everything he did was original and conveyed with enthusiasm.

"The range of his song-writing was such that it included not just songs that could compete with real prospect at Eurovision, but also songs that responded to contemporary events and that could take their place in the folk community."

President Higgins said he and Mr Healy were friends.

"I treasure the correspondence I received from him over the years at different points of both of our lives," he said.

"To have known him as a friend was a great privilege. He was loyal in his friendship and generous in its expression."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he was so sorry to hear of the death of Mr Healy “ after a brave and dignified battle with illness”.

His Eurovision-winning song, What's Another Year, was sung by Johnny Logan in 1980.

Mr Logan told RTÉ Radio: "Shay was very easy to like and very easy to love.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his sons.

"I am sure they are heartbroken."

Derry musician Phil Coluter said Mr Healy was "a genuine one off".

"Another sad day for the brotherhood of Irish songwriters with the passing of the immensely talented, creative, funny, caring, indefatigable and long suffering Shay Healy," he said.

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