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I'll never forget the wisdom the late, great Gerry Ryan showed me during 'slap gate'

Amanda Brunker


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Amanda Brunker

Amanda Brunker

Amanda Brunker with sons Edward & Setanta McLaughlin

Amanda Brunker with sons Edward & Setanta McLaughlin

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Amanda Brunker

Ten years on, I suppose it’s time to revisit ‘slap gate’.

Back in 2010, I was invited on television to talk about parenting. At the time my sons were four and two and a half. Typical boys, boisterous and strong-willed, some would say those little apples didn’t fall far from the tree, but they were always pushing my buttons. In different ways, they still are.

Unbeknown to me, I was about to talk myself into a major drama.

The producers of the show never gave me any warning that the topic of slapping would come up, and of course I sleepwalked into yet another controversy – as my mother would remind me, not for the first or last time.

Stupidly honest to a fault, when asked if I had ever slapped either of my sons, I said yes. In hindsight, I should have said no. Every other possible guest would have said no, but not me, I said yes. Knowing I had stepped on a landmine, I tried to make clear the difference between beating a child and the occasional slap.

Despite coming from a generation that were chased around the garden with wooden spoons, in 2010 society expected parents to reprimand their offspring with no physical punishment – and quite rightly too.

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Amanda Brunker with sons Edward & Setanta McLaughlin

Amanda Brunker with sons Edward & Setanta McLaughlin

Amanda Brunker with sons Edward & Setanta McLaughlin

Within hours, media outlets were speaking with disgust at my comments.  Despite lobbying that I had slapped my sons only a few times, I had handed the PC brigade my head on a platter.

At the time I was doing a lot of TV and radio, plus churning out best-selling books, and industry types were only too delighted to tear me down. All but one.

Gerry Ryan quickly came to my defence, and our chat on his 2FM show – exactly 10 years ago today – became memorable for many reasons. Not just because he too admitted that he had slapped his kids a few times when they were of similar age to mine.

Not just because he told me to ignore those that were faking outrage, and not just because we talked at length about how the only way I could keep my boys quiet was to throw biscuits at them from behind a closed door.

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It was memorable because it was also our last chat – and possibly his final interview – on his last show before he died later that night.

I will always remember that Friday when I learned of Gerry’s death. Several papers had reported our chat the day before with double-page-spreads – what Gerry said, what Amanda said, etc.

I was reading one of those papers when my husband rang to say he had heard from someone, who knew someone, that Gerry had been found dead in his home. It was very surreal. I had spoken to him only the day before, and I was reading an article and looking at pictures about us.

But sadly it was all very real, and I, along with his family and friends, and a nation that let him into their kitchens and cars every day, mourned.


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