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'Gerry wasn't stressed about work before he died' - boss

An RTE boss who talked regularly with Gerry Ryan said the star broadcaster didn't appear to be under stress at work in the weeks before his sudden death.

Managing director of radio Clare Duignan said in an interview that she was "very surprised" by comments made by Marian Finucane that the 2FM presenter was under pressure at work.

Talk show host Marian and her husband had dined with Gerry Ryan and his partner Melanie Verwoerd just days before he passed away.

Although Marian said he was "in typical Gerry form", he was carrying a burden of anxiety.

"He was really very, very stressed. He was stressed about RTE," she said. "He was stressed about other things outside in his life.

"I have heard a number of people mention that [stress] might have been what caused difficulty for him," she added.

However, Ms Duignan said that she had several conversations with Gerry and did not believe that he was under any undue pressure.

"I would not have said he was stressed about work and I would have been the person who he dealt with on a lot of these matters," she said.

"I'm not saying that the conversations that Marian seemed to base that on didn't take place, but I have had conversations with family and close friends and I have not had a sense that was the case."

The radio chief said that she confronted Ryan on his refusal to take a 10pc pay cut, expected of all of RTE's 2,300 staff, following a dramatic decline in the station's advertising revenue.



exchanges

The host had earlier slammed the cuts as "bullsh*t" and said that he made "many millions more [for them] than what they pay me" but eventually bowed to pressure.

Ms Duignan said that they had held a number of meetings to discuss his salary.

"We would have had plenty of words and exchanges about that, whether that caused deep profound stress or not, I don't know," she told the Irish Times. But, she said, she also had many similar "challenging conversations" with others.

Ms Duignan had a conversation with the head of 2fm John McMahon about Ryan's health just 20 minutes before she was told that he was found dead.

The pair were considering ways to persuade the presenter, who had called in sick the night before, to live a healthier lifestyle.

"He was a man in his 50s; he liked to eat and drink and socialise," she said. "He was not a gym bunny and you worry about somebody like that, especially when they are in a highly pressurised job."

But Ms Duignan added that his lifestyle never interfered in his ability to carry out the job.

"I certainly never saw Gerry in any situation where drink had interfered with his work to the tiny scintilla," she said.

She also confirmed in the interview that resenters' salaries would be considerably lower in the future.

claire.murphy@herald.ie


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