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Saturday 30 August 2014

Michael O'Doherty: Statue squabble does nothing but damage late Gerry Ryan's memory

Published 03/07/2014 | 16:14

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Gerry Ryan
Gerry Ryan
Gerry Ryan and Melanie Verwoerd

More than four years after his death, it looks like the issue of how to honour the memory of Gerry Ryan is close to being resolved.

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Though not for the first time his former girlfriend, Melanie Verwoerd, has been forthright with her views.

RTE has had to move to contradict reports that it was planning to spend €70k on a life-size tribute to Gerry, revealing instead that their commemoration will take the shape of an engraved tile, costing a much more modest €5k.

And, of course, a discreet plaque is a correct honour, rather than an ornate statue.

On the most basic level, if RTE starts a precedent of honouring their departed stars with statues, where will it stop? RTE stalwarts such as Gay Byrne, Mike Murphy and Larry Gogan will be commemorated, being equally of deserving of remembrance as Gerry Ryan, and this field of large statues would threaten to turn Montrose into a mini Easter Island.

Melanie, however, has again been sounding off about Gerry's memory, this time over the fact that she has not been consulted by RTE about what form any memorial should take. 
Quite why she feels she should have been central to such plans is a question only she can answer. The event is being organised and paid for by RTE - after all, they were the people who paid his wages for 30 years.

And it is only appropriate that his immediate family, two of whom work in RTE, should be consulted on any project.

But not for the first time Melanie, who came into Gerry's life just two years before his death, seems to feel that she is a custodian of his memory.

She is apparently upset that she has not been involved in the commemoration, nor officially told she's going to be invited, thought it is, in fairness, a full 10 months away.

death

Melanie has regularly raged at the treatment of Gerry, both by his RTE and the media, and insists that she alone knew "the real Gerry".

And once again, comments she made in her book have been dug out by the press, revealing what she considered to be the inordinate pressure that Gerry was put under by RTE just before his death.

RTE didn't interfere in Melanie's commemoration of Gerry in her autobiography Shall We Dance? and has never publicly commented on the book, despite the many things it has to say about them.

So here's a thought. Perhaps Melanie would return the favour, and be good enough to let RTE commemorate Gerry in whatever way it chooses.

It's a tribute to Gerry's 30-year career as a broadcaster, not to his two-year relationship with Melanie...

Irish Independent

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