Monday 24 July 2017

'I should have learned from Gerry's death'

Shamed DJ reveals alcohol battle and regrets over 'lewd act' controversy

Neil Prendeville can't see his native Cork losing this time out
Neil Prendeville can't see his native Cork losing this time out
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE radio star at the centre of a lewd act controversy admitted yesterday that he should have learned from Gerry Ryan's tragic death that it was time to reduce his drinking.

Neil Prendeville also admitted that he had been a "crap husband" and "obnoxious".

The 49-year-old presenter with Cork radio station 96FM made the comments as he gave his first major interview yesterday since it emerged he had allegedly exposed himself and masturbated on an Aer Lingus flight from London to Cork on October 19.

Earlier this month, gardai ruled out a prosecution because of jurisdictional issues.

Mr Prendeville -- in an interview with 96FM reporter PJ Coogan -- admitted yesterday he was "an alcohol abuser" but didn't know if he was an alcoholic.

The radio star said he was shocked by the circumstances of the death of Gerry Ryan -- but didn't take the lesson to heart. RTE star Ryan died from a heart attack most likely brought on by cocaine and alcohol.

Reformed

Mr Prendeville said: "I had lunch with a friend of mine who is a reformed alcoholic just shortly after Gerry Ryan died.

"He said at the time that I was heading for a major, major incident. In hindsight, when I look back on it, this was coming my way. It certainly was."

Mr Prendeville confirmed that his €150,000-a-year contract was terminated by station owner UTV in the immediate wake of the controversy. He has been off air since November 3 from his flagship morning show.

When he returns to air at 9am on Monday, it will be on a reduced contract.

Mr Prendeville was not asked in the interview by his colleague whether he actually did masturbate on the flight.The DJ again insisted he still had no recollection of the in-flight incident.

"It was alcohol that got me into this incident, undoubtedly. I have been very open about the amount that I consumed on that day," he said.

However, he did concede: "I did cause some form of offence to people on that flight and it is something that I will never forget and never stop regretting."

He added: "This was a career-ending incident. I just pray this won't define me for the rest of my life ... It took me 22 years to build a reputation but it took me just seconds to destroy it."

Mr Prendeville insisted he was a changed man following the controversy -- and pleaded for forgiveness.

"I feel so much shame and so much regret. I am so ashamed of myself as a father. I cannot say I was a very good husband. I was a crap husband -- I was obnoxious. I wasn't a very good friend to people."

Mr Prendeville said he sought stress counselling in the wake of the controversy -- and now has a diary-type book two-thirds written on his experiences.

The broadcaster also confirmed that he could no longer fly with the State carrier. "I am not welcome as a passenger on Aer Lingus any more," he said.

Irish Independent

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