Liveline is an Irish radio interview and phone-in chat show broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 each weekday afternoon between 13.45 and 15.00. The programme, which is currently presented by Joe Duffy and known for its slogan "Talk to Joe",[1] seeks the public's opinion on various questions, normally one or more controversial current events. According to The New York Times, it is Ireland's "most popular radio call-in program".[2] According to the Irish Independent, "His greeting at 1.45pm every weekday -- "Hello, good afternoon and you're very welcome to Liveline"—is the signal for 400,000 listeners to sit back and await some lively debate or the exposure of a scam or a social scandal".[3]

GenreInterview / phone-in chat
Running time13:45 – 15:00
Country of originIreland
Home stationRTÉ Radio 1
StarringJoe Duffy
Produced byRebecca Meehan
Recording studioDonnybrook, Dublin 4
Audio formatFM and Digital radio
WebsiteOfficial site

Liveline was originally presented and produced by Marian Finucane[2] and Doireann Ní Bhriain, but is currently presented by Joe Duffy. During the presenter's absence, the role of presenter is typically filled by Philip Boucher-Hayes, Damien O'Reilly or previously Derek Davis(Deceased). "Funny Fridays", while thoroughly unpopular to regular listeners features guests who include Brendan "Brush" Shiels and Brendan "Doc" Savage.

In early August 2007 Liveline ran a series of programmes focusing on the problems experienced by those who holiday abroad; scaring listeners with stories of the dangers of foreign resorts and the corruption of Turkish and other local police and warnings of grasping and inhospitable hotel managements. Equally, the poor behaviour of young Irish holiday makers was also highlighted. Callers also air their grievances over topics such as bikini-wearing models.[1][4]

In September 2009, the screenwriter Frank Deasy appeared on Liveline several days before his death from liver cancer to discuss organ donor awareness. A record of at least 5,500 people soon applied to become holders of organ donor cards, 2,000 immediately afterwards and a further 3,500 the following day.[5][6] By comparison, a similar request on The Late Late Show in 2007 yielded only 1,000 more donor applicants.[7] Mark Murphy, CEO of the Irish Kidney Association, put it down to "the power of Joe Duffy".[7]


Michael McDowell interference

Joe Duffy thought about resigning from RTÉ in 2007 after the broadcaster forced him to give Justice Minister Michael McDowell a platform on Liveline to make a "party political broadcast". Duffy considered it "direct party-political interference" in Liveline.[8]

Gay adoption debate

Whilst presenting Liveline as a stand-in host for regular presenter Joe Duffy in February 2007, Evelyn O'Rourke found herself playing host to a debate on gay adoption. The debate featured heated discussions with journalist Hermann Kelly following the publication of an article he wrote in the Irish Mail on Sunday in which he criticised the notion of gays and lesbians adopting children. Kelly criticised the foster father Colm O'Gorman, the director of One in Four and a prospective election candidate for the Progressive Democrats in Wexford. Following the debate a number of complaints were aired by listeners centering on the conduct of O'Rourke and alleging that she had cut Kelly off, interrupted him on occasions and left him to defend his stance alone against several hostile callers. A Mary Moriarty, amongst five listeners to complain about the debate,[9] told the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC) that callers had made slanderous remarks on Kelly several times and had not been asked for an apology or retraction of their statements. O'Rourke unwittingly and accidentally revealed her support for gay adoption by referring to the pro-gay adoption callers as "we" when discussing the matter. The BCC decided that the show had not been impartial and that O'Rourke's quick questioning of Kelly had been "unfair". Journalist Eoin McMahon expressed his disgust in the Sunday Independent:

If a journalist or pro-homosexual activist writes an article promoting homosexual rights, three guesses whether Liveline would devote an entire programme rubbishing the article, with the presenter coaxing and cajoling irate callers to put the boot in. The silenced majority: they haven't gone away you know.[10]

Slanderous airings

Transport minister Martin Cullen and his former PR adviser, Monica Leech, sought compensation in 2005 for damage to their reputation after a caller to Liveline made lewd suggestions about them live on air.[11]

2008 global financial crisis bank running government outrage controversy

Liveline has been censured by the government for host Joe Duffy's repeated attempts to continually discuss the effects of the global financial crisis on Ireland.[12] This followed on from the outrage caused when Duffy was held responsible by Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan for inciting widespread public fear that Irish citizens were on the verge of losing their savings. Several callers freely spoke of their lack of confidence in the banking system, of how they had withdrawn their money from banks, some of which were identified, and were either carrying it around on their person, or considering keeping it "under the mattress", or burying it in their garden. Duffy inflamed the situation further by asking a woman what it felt like carrying over €70,000 "down the street" and a man how he would feel carrying his savings with him "on the bus" before opining that the banks would not be believed if they stated the system was working as normal. Lenihan personally rang Cathal Goan, the Director-General of RTÉ, on 18 September 2008 (the date of the show) to express his outrage at the sudden increase in potentially disastrous speculation following the show.

Duffy and his Liveline production team were rebuked by RTÉ's management. A senior figure in Irish banking called the show "absolutely its single most destructive broadcast ever". RTÉ publicly defended Duffy and Liveline but behind the scenes was said to be deeply embarrassed, even permitting the Sunday newspapers to "castigate" Liveline. Duffy wished to return to the issue the following day, having prepared and even broadcast a promo piece, but was firmly ruled over by management who decided otherwise, "the damage having already been done". The extent of the Finance Minister's concern first publicly emerged the following morning when he was interviewed by RTÉ's economics editor George Lee. In that interview, Lenihan insisted that deposits were not in any danger and said that people should not be going to banks to shift their deposit accounts "on the basis of unfounded allegations made on radio programmes".[13]

Gender bias

One councillor voiced her outrage in October 2008 that an upcoming conference would feature 17 male speakers. No females were allowed to speak.[14]

Beauty contest

In November 2008, Duffy devoted forty minutes of one edition of Liveline to the mechanics of a beauty competition.[15]


  1. Cooke, Gary (14 August 2009). "Who needs talking therapy when you can talk to Joe?". Evening Herald. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  2. F. Clarity, James (26 September 1997). "Irishwomen Find Niche (And It's Not In Kitchen)". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  3. "Review: Autobiography: Just Joe: My Autobiography by Joe Duffy". Irish Independent. 15 October 2011.
  4. Berry, Lisa Marie (13 August 2009). "Chef Derry stirs up bikini-babe picture storm". Evening Herald. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  5. "Death of award-winning TV writer". BBC News. BBC. 17 September 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  6. McBride, Caitlin (17 September 2009). "5,000 apply for organ donor cards after writer's emotional Liveline plea". Evening Herald. Independent News & Media. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  7. Ring, Evelyn (17 September 2009). "5,000 apply for organ donor cards after appeal by TV scriptwriter". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  8. Murphy, Cormac. "Duffy wanted to resign over 'McDowell party speech'. NEW BOOK: Joe reveals 'outrage' over RTE's Liveline decision". 11 October 2011.
  9. "RTÉ says sorry for treatment of radio guest". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 12 June 2007. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
  10. McMahon, Eoin (17 June 2007). "The silenced majority haven't gone away, they're just still silent". Sunday Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
  11. "RTÉ faces six figure pay-out over lewd Joe Duffy claims". Sunday Tribune. 9 January 2005. Retrieved 21 November 2008.
  12. Kerrigan, Gene (5 October 2008). "Now it's time to play the blame game". Sunday Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  13. Corcoran, Jody (21 September 2008). "Lenihan lash at Joe Duffy banks panic". Sunday Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  14. "Councillor tells Joe Duffy of outrage at all-male line-up for conference". Carlow People. 7 October 2008. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2008.
  15. "Liveline devotes 40 minutes to Donegal man's beauty competition". Donegal Democrat. 11 November 2008. Archived from the original on 4 October 2009. Retrieved 21 November 2008.
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