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Sunday 18 February 2018

'I forgive the man linked to Philip's abduction,' says mother

Alice Cairns, mother of Philip. Photo: Maxwells
Alice Cairns, mother of Philip. Photo: Maxwells

Ryan Nugent

The mother of missing Philip Cairns forgives the man linked to his disappearance but has only recently accepted that she will never see her child again.

Philip went missing 30 years ago, aged 13, and gardaí believe he may have been abducted by late convicted paedophile Eamonn Cooke.

Cooke (79) died a number of weeks after first being questioned by gardaí over the disappearance of Philip.

However, speaking to RTÉ radio's 'Today with Sean O'Rourke', Philip's mother Alice said that to make peace with herself, she must forgive Cooke if he was involved in any wrongdoing.

"That other man is dead now so he's not going to affect anyone in the present, Lord have mercy on his soul," she added.

"You still have to forgive haven't you?"

"To have my own peace, I have to forgive so I don't think about it," she added.

Ms Cairns said she feels "robbed" of her son and that he was robbed of a life.

She thinks the potential breakthrough in his case is "a bit late in the day" but that it may bring some closure for her family.

Her husband Philip Cairns Snr died two years ago and she has five other children.


"I'd like the whole episode to come to a conclusion - to know exactly where he is," she said.

"You would like to know and give him a Christian give us some consolation."

Ms Cairns believes her son was abducted when he went missing on October 23, 1986, but she in unsure what happened to him after that.

She said that up until recently she always believed there was a chance her son would one day return to the family home.

"It was only in the last year or two that I've come to terms with the fact that he probably won't come back. I don't know, possibly since my husband died," she said.

"We did (talk about him) and for a long time we couldn't talk too much about him because it was too painful. I've had to continue on.

"You're always hoping. He (her husband) gave up on seeing him ever again much quicker than I did," she added.

On the day Philip went missing, he had come home from secondary school for lunch.

However, Alice, who would usually be there to see him off to school after the break, had to bring another one of her children to the dentist in the city centre.

She said she thought nothing of it until she came home that evening.

"When I came back from town in the evening, which was about six or seven o'clock, he wasn't here, he hadn't come home from school since," she said.

"I went over to his friend's house and lads he would have known, to see if he'd have gone with them, but they told me they didn't know.

"He didn't come home with them at all. Then I was told he didn't go back to school at all. I couldn't get over it, I was completely shocked," she added.

Philip's schoolbag was found some days later in a laneway between Anne Devlin Road and Anne Devlin Drive.

Gardaí, who are following 160 lines of inquiry, believe it had been placed there - something that Ms Cairns agrees with.

"You always have hope if there's something (the bag)," she said.

"I don't think Philip left the bag there," she added.

Since the link to Cooke was first reported, the family has received strong levels of support from friends and neighbours.

"I was hoping it wasn't true," Alice said. "I still don't know what the story is or whether it's true or not.

"People have been sending flowers and good wishes and Mass cards."

It is understood that gardaí are now searching a field on the Tallaght side of the Dublin Mountains.

Irish Independent

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