FORMER EU commissioner Padraig Flynn has admitted to being just as mystified as everyone else over the apparent "disappearance" of his former son-in-law John Cooper.
The Irish Independent revealed yesterday that Mr Cooper, who split with Mr Flynn's daughter Beverley more than a decade ago, has not been in touch with his own family for 16 years – and they are desperate for him to make contact.
Mr Flynn joked that Mr Cooper was "not buried in the garden" and went on to say he hadn't spoken to him in a dozen years and had no idea what became of him.
But this newspaper can reveal that Mr Cooper is alive and well and working in Dublin.
Mr Flynn (73) said the family did not keep in contact with him after his split from his daughter Beverley in 1997.
Speaking from his Castlebar, Co Mayo, home yesterday, he added: "I know nothing about where he could be, I haven't seen him for, it must be 12 years, not at all. Now, I know he's not buried in the garden."
The whereabouts of Mr Cooper has been a mystery; he lost contact with his family in the UK following his separation from Ms Flynn.
His family is desperate to make contact with him to inform him of the death of one of his brothers, whose funeral is next week.
Mr Cooper is, in fact, working as a senior mechanical engineer for Malone Engineering in Blanchardstown, west Dublin.
"He's worked with us for the past 11 years and he continues to do so," a company official said.
A photograph of Mr Cooper, alongside his professional profile on the company's website, was verified by his nephew Stephen Cooper (53).
"That's him, a little bit older, but he looks a lot like his brother," Stephen Cooper said.
But the reason why John Cooper lost contact with his family in London isn't clear, Stephen Cooper added.
However, he said the family would be delighted if John attended the funeral of his brother, Stephen's father Peter Cooper, at the Beckenham Cemetery in Bromley, London, next week.
Ms Flynn, who reverted to her maiden name in 2003, declined comment.
However, her father said: "I'd say Beverley knows as little as I know."
Mr Cooper moved to Ireland in 1989 after meeting Ms Flynn in France. The couple were married for six years before separating in 1997. During his time in Castlebar, Mr Cooper kept a low profile, according to locals.
"He didn't get involved in her public life much. Beverley would have been at everything but you would never have met him at many things," said one local.
Mr Cooper, who previously worked for Guinness in Dublin, was last seen in Co Mayo last year holidaying in Westport.
However, it is understood he has not lived in the county for many years.
Following the breakdown of her marriage, Ms Flynn has been in a long-term relationship with builder Tony Gaughan. The couple share a home on the outskirts of Castlebar and run a business in Marbella.
John Cooper did not return phone calls yesterday.