The death has been announced of Sunday Independent editor Aengus Fanning.

The 69-year-old died this morning after a short illness.

A native of Tralee in Co Kerry, Mr Fanning joined Independent Newspapers in the 1960s as a general reporter before becoming Agricultural Correspondent.

He was then appointed News Analysis editor of the Irish Independent before being appointed editor of the Sunday Independent in 1984.

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to Mr Fanning.

"Aengus was a very committed journalist and editor whose energy and talents will be greatly missed by his colleagues, not only in the Sunday Independent, but also in the wider world of journalism.''

President Higgins said Mr Fanning will also be missed by his many friends in the world of music.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Aengus Fanning was a ''charismatic and significant media figure'' who took a very hands on approach to his job.

''Throughout his 28 year tenure as Editor of the paper, he ensured that the Sunday Independent remained relevant and influential on the important news stories of the day,'' he said.

Independent News and Media CEO Gavin O'Reilly paid tribute, saying: "If you wanted to know what people were thinking of the big issues of the day or, indeed, what would be the big issues of tomorrow and next week all you had to do was ask Aengus".

He said Mr Fanning was possibly the greatest and most instinctively brilliant editor that Irish journalism has ever produced.

"Not only was he absolutely fearless but he had an innate ability to read and understand both the aspirations and fears of the Irish people and it was this skill that allowed him embed the Sunday Independent into the very fabric of Irish society over almost three decades as editor.''

Watch a clip of Aengus Fanning on The Late Late Show from November 2010

Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said Mr Fanning was loyal to his journalists and commanded in turn their loyalty, affection and respect.

''Aengus was a journalist of skill and imagination who brought his unique style and colour to the editorship of the Sunday Independent.

''He was proud of his association with Birr and the Midland Tribune, where he began his journalism career under the direction of his uncle James I Fanning and two mentors, the late Bud Burke and Geoff Oakley'', he added.

Press Ombudsman John Horgan said: "He was unfailing good company, full of ideas, and perennially involved in the business of shaping the public consciousness in ways he felt were important for the country.

"Editing a major newspaper demands flair and intuition, and Aengus had both of these characteristics in spades."

Former Taoiseach John Bruton said: "I first came in contact with Aengus when he was Agricultural Correspondent for the Irish Independent, and I was a very young Fine Gael spokesman on Agriculture, in 1972.

“He immediately struck me as someone exceptionally willing to help others with his professional knowledge, accessible and always affable, and above all an enthusiastic newspaperman.
He retained those qualities to the end of his life.

“He will be greatly missed."

Mr Fanning is survived by his wife Anne and three sons, Dion, Evan and Steve.