Monday 27 March 2017

Melanie: my hurt over RTE tribute to Gerry

Partner rejected late invite to take part in programme

Ken Sweeney

Ken Sweeney

GERRY Ryan’s grieving partner Melanie Verwoerd was left reeling after being asked to take part in a documentary on his life – just two days before the late broadcaster’s inquest.

The UNICEF Ireland boss was forced to turn down producers of the RTE programme, who wanted her to go before cameras the following week.

They told her “production deadlines” meant she would have to be interviewed just five days after an inquest revealed that cocaine likely triggered Ryan’s fatal heart failure.

Ms Verwoerd (43), who found the late broadcaster’s body at his rented home on Leeson Street, Dublin, last April, said last night that she desperately wanted to give an interview “to honour Gerry and our relationship”.

But she would never have been “emotionally or physically ready to give such a personal interview” so close to an inquest ordeal that left her “deeply traumatised”.

Instead, Ms Verwoerd, who has only given one full interview since the death of her 53-yearold partner, promised to honour “my Gerry” at a later date.

Several of Ryan’s five children broke their silence on their father’s death, while his estranged wife Morah spoke of her love for the man during the documentary ‘Gerry’.

But none of the celebrity friends interviewed for last night’s programme commented on his use of illegal drugs.

Programme makers instead interviewed medical experts on the dangers on cocaine.

RTE denied any last-minute changes were made after recent criticism of its coverage of the drugs issue.

“It was only two days before the inquest into Gerry’s death that I was finally asked to give an interview for the RTE commissioned documentary,” Ms Verwoerd said.

“I first became aware of the documentary in May of this year, and wanted to give an interview to honour Gerry and our relationship. This has not changed. However, due to production deadlines, I was informed that the interview had to be filmed five days after the inquest.

“Given this short timeframe, I did not feel emotionally or physically ready to give such a personal interview.

“I will therefore honour my Gerry, and our relationship at a more appropriate time in the future,” Ms Verwoerd said in a statement to the Irish Independent through her solicitor.

Ms Verwoerd was said to be “deeply traumatised” by the findings of the inquest.

Last night’s documentary featured a host of friends and family paying tribute to the 2fm star — including Bono, Chris Evans, and businessman Harry Crosbie.

In a series of revelations about Ryan’s final months, many of his circle admitted they feared for his health. Friends and family told how:

- Ryan was left feeling “hurt” and shattered after he failed to land the prestigious role as host of ‘The Late Late Show’.

- The break-up of Gerry and Morah Ryan’s marriage put “enormous pressure” on him.

- He felt deserted by “so-called friends” who seemed to “disappear” once his marriage hit the rocks.

- He was also devastated by the death of his mother at Christmas in 2007.

- Ryan had “no cut-off switch” when he was out drinking.

- Friends feared he would be hospitalised due to his excessive lifestyle, but were shocked by the suddenness of his death.

Trouble

Property developer Harry Crosbie admitted he had a premonition that all was not well with the media star in the months leading up to his death. “I knew he was in trouble.

And I knew something was going to happen to him but I didn’t know it was going to be (his death),” said Mr Crosbie.

“I thought he was going to get sick, or I would hear that he was going into hospital for three or four weeks, or that he would have to give up the show because he was so stressed.”

The O2 owner revealed how deeply the broadcaster had been affected by the break-up of his marriage in 2008.

“It completely unsettled him, professionally, emotionally, personally . . . he was very hurt.”

Mr Crosbie added: “He drank way too much. He didn’t have that cut-off switch. We (himself and wife Rita) both told him he was drinking too much; that he was under stress . . . apart from us, he was lonely.”

This was backed up by close friend Fr Brian D’Arcy who said the breakdown of Ryan’s marriage put “enormous pressure” on the broadcaster.

“When he drank, he drank too much. When he was down, he was too low. When he was eating, he had to eat more.”

The star’s brother Mike Ryan revealed how the broadcaster felt cut off after his split with wife Morah Ryan – by mutual consent – was announced in 2008.

“One of the biggest upsets in his life was his so-called friends who seemed to disappear. One day they were there; the next they weren’t.”

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