Thursday 29 September 2016

'I worked with paedo DJ Cooke - we all knew he was dangerous'

Author Cathy Kelly saw the DJ bring young girls to his studio while she was there as a budding journalist

Paul Williams

Published 26/07/2016 | 09:10

Paul Williams with Cathy Kelly at her home near Enniskerry, Wicklow
Paul Williams with Cathy Kelly at her home near Enniskerry, Wicklow

PAEDOPHILE radio DJ Eamon Cooke has been branded "disgusting" by author Cathy Kelly, who saw the DJ bring young girls to his studio while she was there as a budding journalist.

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The best-selling writer worked as a freelance journalist at Radio Dublin in the mid-1980s and recalled what it was like sharing an office space with the man known as the "Cookie Monster" to his victims.

Kelly was no longer working at the pirate radio station when schoolboy Philip Cairns went missing. A new lead linking his disappearance to Cooke has given the investigation a new direction in recent weeks.

Speaking on the Paul Williams Podcast for Independent.ie, Kelly said people were aware Cooke was "dangerous".

"I freelanced in Radio Dublin before poor Philip Cairns went missing, I was there the summer before that," she said.

Kelly recalled hearing the news that Cooke may have been involved in Philip's disappearance.

shocking

"It was horrendous. I have to say it was just shocking to hear that news," she said.

"I worked with Cooke. He was very rarely in there, but he always had young kids with him.

"I was 19 and to say I was innocent was putting it mildly. I was thick to the point of innocence.

"He would be around very rarely, but he was disgusting. He always had young girls with him.

"I remember saying it to people and they said 'just do nothing' because he was dangerous and we all knew he was dangerous.

"This would be 1986. I had left college and I was trying to get a job.

"I worked there in the summer, he went missing in October."

She later went to work at the Sunday World and although as a child "lived for books", did not begin writing until much later in life.

It was when Kelly was "spectacularly broke" that she decided to try writing again. Plans to write a book with her mother while in college did not work out.

Her debut novel Woman to Woman, released in 1997, was top of the charts for eight weeks.

While the book was at its peak her father, in his 50s at the time, was developing a type of dementia which was difficult to get diagnosed due to his age.

At the same time the author also had troubles of her own and had a malignant melanoma removed from her hip after it was noticed during a check-up.

"There was so much going on. My mom is an only child, my brother and sister lived abroad and dementia is a very isolating thing because people are afraid to come around. They don't know what the person is going to be like," she said.

Kelly, who marks her 50th birthday in a few months, considers herself strong.

"I was there for my mom, I was there for my dad, it wasn't always easy."

In her working life, she is now in the process of completing her 19th book, but tries to strike a balance as a mother of twin boys.

"I have two children who will be 13 soon and I've always said I wanted to be their mother first. I'm lucky to run a business from home.

"It's very hard to keep all that up and figure out what you're going to cook for dinner at the same time."

Despite writing 19 books Kelly said she still hasn't figured out where her inspiration comes from.

In a wide-ranging interview, Kelly also touched on her faith. She describes herself as "spiritual", rather than religious.

"I was brought up a Catholic and there's a part of me that looks at a church and there's some amazing people in it … but it's still a church that leaves 50pc of the people out, including people like me.

"I've broken the rules. I'm married to someone who is divorced. I won't be a hypocrite and sit there in church and go up to get Communion.

"I think 'look, I will come in here, I will pray and be honourable but I've broken your rules. I won't be a hypocrite and play the game'," she said.

"I hate the way Catholicism treats gay people. I think that's absolutely appalling, so I have huge problems with the way priests can't get married - which we all know is down to property and money.

"A couple of years ago we were in the Vatican and as a huge lover of art I just adored it, but as a person who works for a charity there's a part of me thinking 'If they could just sell off some of this stuff, this would be fabulous'.

"Contraception, abortion, I'm sorry I have a problem with that," she continued.

"My kids go to a Catholic school, partly because I would like them to have a grounding in religion and yet they have huge spirituality coming from me.

"My religion is kindness and doing good for other people. I'd like to think I try and do that."

Kelly said she would vote to repeal the eighth amendment of the Constitution if a referendum was held, saying that "women have a right to choose".

She also described the poverty faced by some single mothers, which she sees particularly in her capacity as a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador.

"I'm hugely involved in it. It's part of me, a huge part of my life.

"I'm never going to go away from it. It's just so incredibly powerful," she said.

"We need to think about, horrendous though it is, the phenomenal number of people who are leaving the Middle East because of war.

"Unicef is now working in Europe, which is quite staggering."

As someone involved in charity, she expressed her sadness at hearing of the controversy about suicide charity Console.

"I think it's incredibly sad and it's devastating for the people in the street who stand there rattling the boxes," she said.

"What happens if you know someone in a charity who's driving around in a new car every year, you should be able to ring up and go 'OK, I'm a little bit worried about this, can you please do something because a lot of us have raised money and that is pretty hard'.

"The people out there who are having the bake sales, riding bikes for 200 miles to raise funds for a child dying of cancer, those people are heroes."

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