Sunday 18 March 2018

Louis Walsh honours friend whose charity work has the 'x factor'

Caroline Downey-Desmond and Louis Walsh at the Variety awards gala in Dublin yesterday
Caroline Downey-Desmond and Louis Walsh at the Variety awards gala in Dublin yesterday

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor

HE is usually talking up his pop acts. But 'X Factor' judge Louis Walsh was praising "three exceptional individuals" for their work on behalf of charity and children at the Variety Humanitarian Awards Gala Ceremony at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin last night.

Derek O'Neill, a charity worker from the Liberties turned international humanitarian and philanthropist, and Dr Finn Breathnach, a consultant paediatric oncologist and humanitarian, were among the recipients of humanitarian awards.

But it was the third humanitarian honoured -- MCD director, charity fundraiser and Childline organiser Caroline Downey-Desmond -- with whom Mr Walsh has had a long association.

"All three recipients are well deserving of this award. I'm delighted Caroline is being honoured because our friendship goes back to 1981 when she was working in Captain America's and we went to the very first Slane together to watch U2 and Thin Lizzy. She met her husband Denis (Desmond, of MCD) at it.

"I've often joked that MCD stands for 'Miss Caroline Desmond'," Louis Walsh told the Irish Independent.


Describing Ms Downey-Desmond as a "tireless charity worker", he added that she was "a great woman" and "had brilliant clever kids" -- and joked, within earshot of the man in question, Denis Desmond, that "her husband is okay too".

Mr Walsh's former act, Eurovision winner Johnny Logan, performed at the awards, having flown in from Germany earlier that day. "I've known Caroline for many years and I'm delighted she is being recognised along with Derek O'Neill and Dr Finn Breathnach," said Mr Logan, who has a long association with Variety Ireland.

Fellow Irish Eurovision winner Linda Martin, singer Dickie Rock, Morah Ryan and actor Liam Cunningham were among other guests at the function which honoured Mr O'Neill -- who has raised millions of euro for charity projects in 11 countries -- and Dr Breathnach, who was formerly with Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin and Barretstown and is now retired and working with an oncology colleague in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, offering healthcare advice in haematology and oncology.

Variety the Children's Charity was first established in the United States in 1928. The charity is dedicated to promoting and protecting the health and well-being of children around the world.

Variety Ireland, formed in 1954, has been able to help sick, disabled and disadvantaged children throughout Ireland.

Irish Independent

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