Keith Duffy responds to claims made by CEO of Irish Autism Action: ‘I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong- I have worked my a**e off for years to support other families like mine’
Keith Duffy has publicly responded to comments allegedly made by the CEO of Irish Autism Action, the charity with whom he was a patron for more than 14 years.
The former Boyzone star said he was insulted by reported comments allegedly made by CEO of IAA Brian Murnane, which suggested that although Duffy raised more than €8m for the charity, the cost of fundraising was €7m.
Speaking to the Anton Savage Show on Today FM, the former Boyzone star said the alleged comments were an insult to his character and work with the charity. Duffy has a 16-year-old daughter Mia who has autism and he said he became involved with the charity against his family’s wishes.
“To have read that, to have received the amount of emails and phone calls I got from the media after the statement was made, I’m not going to lie to you, I was sick to my stomach. I put my family’s private story out there to try and help other families against my family’s better wishes at the time," he said.
“When I read that, I thought it was a direct insult to me, it was like a knife in my back. I was devastated.”
“I actually had a panic attack, I was hyperventilating because I just could not believe that there was somebody in this world that would make such a flippant comment.”
When approached by the Irish Examiner about the comments reportedly made at an event, Brian Murnane is alleged to have said: “That was a semi-flippant comment. The point I was trying to make was that was a gross revenue figure and I would also say an approximate figure and that’s also a figure that’s been raised over more than 10 years. But it’s a gross figure. What the true net figure is, is actually more difficult to estimate.”
However, when speaking to The Herald, Murnane denied ever making the comment about Duffy’s involvement.
Duffy revealed that the comments were particularly hurtful considering the amount he has given up in order to help the organisation.
“I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. I cut my holidays short to make sure I was there for events for Irish Autism Action. I had police escorts from Cork to get to Dublin to make sure I was there to support events for Irish Autism Action. My family have missed me on holidays because I had to be there.”
“I was dedicated; I spent my life with it. I’ve turned down career opportunities to make sure that I wasn’t diluting what I was trying to achieve.”
“I have hand on heart worked my arse off for years to support other families like mine.
The former Coronation Street actor stepped down as patron of the charity last year but said he does not regret supporting the organisation, which was set up “by parents with the best of intentions”.
“You can’t regret doing it because Irish Autism Action initially was put together by parents of children with autism with the best of intentions and the state has let down the families of children with autism and the children.”