Philip Cairns mother: ‘I only recently accepted my son won’t return’

Alice and Philip Cairns at a press conference when their son Philip disappeared in 1986;

The mother of Philip Cairns, the Dublin schoolboy who went missing 30 years ago, has said she has only recently accepted that he will not be coming back.

Alice Cairns comments come after it emerged last Friday that a woman made a statement to gardaí a month ago stating that, when she was a child, she saw notorious paedophile and Radio Dublin DJ Eamon Cooke had struck Philip with an implement in the radio station around the time of his disappearance in 1986.

She reportedly told gardaí she saw Philip bleeding and unconscious on the floor of the station’s office, in Inchicore, in the south inner city.

Mrs Cairns said she was never aware that Philip had visited a radio station, and that she “always knew where he was until the day he disappeared”.

“I didn’t like it but I was hoping that it wasn’t true,” Ms Cairns told RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke show. “I still don’t know what the story is, and whether it’s true or not… Unless Eamon Cooke picked up Philip on the day, I don’t think he had any communication with him at all before that… whatever happened with Philip, it happened on the day.”

Cooke, who died earlier this month, spoke to gardaí a number of times at the hospice he was in, but it is not clear to what extent he confirmed contact with Philip.

Mrs Cairns also said that it is only in the last few years that she has been able to accept that her son will not be coming back.

 Philip aged 13.
Philip aged 13.

“It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms that he probably won’t come back, possibly since my husband died.”

She said she had held out hope “for years and years and years” that her son might still be alive and said her husband had found it particularly difficult.

“For a long time, we couldn’t talk very much about him because it was too painful,” she said. “He was always waiting and hoping too, but I think he gave up thinking he was going to see him again much quicker than I did.”

When asked about her feelings towards Cooke, Mrs Cairns said she did not think about him much.

 A garda examines Philip’sschoolbag, found near his home in Rathfarnham
A garda examines Philip’s

schoolbag, found near his home in Rathfarnham

“You can’t think too much either about it because you could waste your whole life feeling bad about that person,” she said. “I don’t think too much about it at all. I just focus on Philip.”

Mrs Cairns also said that, for her own peace, she had to forgive Cooke. She also said she understood why the woman who recently came forward took so long to do so.

 Alice Cairns says she does not think much about paedophile Eamon Cooke.
Alice Cairns says she does not think much about paedophile Eamon Cooke.

“She was probably traumatised and maybe didn’t think it was going to happen, that he was going to die and maybe it’s only when she heard that he was dying that she felt she had to do something about it. I don’t know.”

Earlier this week, gardaí made an appeal to people who would not be in their 30s or 40s to come forward if they have any information about Philip’s disappearance.


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