President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to RTÉ broadcaster Keelin Shanley who has died aged 51.

In a statement this afternoon President Higgins said: "People all over Ireland will have been greatly saddened by the news of the death of Keelin Shanley, broadcaster and award-winning journalist.

"Driven by a strong commitment to social justice, she brought great professionalism and dedication to her work as a journalist.

"Sabina and I send our deepest condolences to her husband Conor, their children Lucy and Ben, her wider family and her wide circle of friends."

RTÉ's Director General Dee Forbes said Keelin was a "passionate and dedicated public service journalist". Ms Forbes said she had an "expertise that challenged and probed" along with an "ease" that endeared her to all.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Keelin's passing was a "huge loss" and that she was "always warm, engaging, and courteous". He described her as a "really lovely person".

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described Keelin as a "warm and engaging" person and said her journalism was "endlessly professional". 

On Twitter, the Tánaiste Simon Coveney said Keelin Shanley was a "talented, honest media star". He described her as a "decent person" who was liked and respected. He added that RTÉ would be a poorer place without her.

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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said she was saddened to hear of Keelin's death. She said she was a "journalist of great integrity and talent".

Seamus Dooley, Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, extended his sympathy to Keelin's family, colleagues and friends.

He said: "Her untimely death is a great loss firstly to her family but also to public service broadcasting."

He said Keelin had a "real passion for news, a respect for facts and an ability as an interviewer to get to the nub of a story".