Newspaper and internet articles, psychiatry, Random

Unicef and Melanie Verwoerd.

It was reported in the Irish Independent (26/07/2011) that Melanie Verwoerd, the executive director of Unicef Ireland, was dismissed after she gave an interview to the Irish Independent at the launch of the findings of a major UNICEF mental health report last month.

I wonder was it something she said?

At the launch, the former charity boss spoke at length about the findings of the report, which was titled: ‘Changing the Future — Experiencing Adolescence In Contemporary Ireland: Mental Health.’. This quote is from the Unicef report on mental health…“I took anti-depressants in the past when getting help with my mental health and I found that they’ve done more damage than good“.

Now my skepticism might be totally wrong here but this sounds very similar to the “David Healy affair” to me, where Professor Healy’s job offer was recinded by the University of Toronto after he delivered a lecture and discussed, inter alia, Prozac’s association with suicide.  Let them eat Prozac. 

Anyway, going off track again, “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” had a bit of a run in with Ms. Verwoerd, and before any solicitors run to the computer to fire me off an e-mail, I’m just referring to a letter published in the Irish Times and referred to on Wikipedia! Link. 

Now I admit I could be totally off track here but it seems to me that Ms. Verwoerd was an extremely good Representative for Unicef and very good at her job, so maybe there is more to this story than Unicef’s embarrasment of her partner, the man with the big personality, Gerry, who died last year, 30th April 2010.

The Irish Independent claims“that the board of Unicef Ireland instructed former director Melanie Verwoerd that her late partner Gerry Ryan was not to accompany her to official charity events. The revelation emerged last night as sources close to Ms Verwoerd confirmed she was considering legal action against her former employers following her controversial sacking. However, sources revealed the charity had difficulties with their executive director’s high-profile relationship with Mr Ryan as far back as October 2008, when details of their affair were first made public. The board also told Melanie to stop Gerry acting as MC at other UNICEF events even though he didn’t take a fee,” said one source . Friends last night said the mother-of-two was “still in shock” after it was revealed she lost her job as a result of publicity surrounding her relationship with Mr Ryan”.

What always surprised me about Gerry’s death and the ensuing media attention was that the fact that he was prescribed xanax  three days prior to his death and this was barely mentioned because of the mild traces of cocaine that were found in his system.

At Gerry’s Inquest, when Ms. Verwoerd was asked by the coroner if she knew of Gerry’s use of cocaine, she replied: “Definitely not. We had two un-negotiable agreements. One of them was the use of drugs. He knew there would be no second chances, I would be out the door. He made me a solemn promise. I’m confident that he kept that promise until the night of his death.”

Did anyone look up the side effects of xanax which can include “unusual risk-taking behavior, decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger” ? Did anyone think that Ms. Verwoerd was right and Gerry did stop taking cocaine during their time together? The warnings also include this “Do not drink alcohol while taking Xanax. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol. Xanax can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions”. Everyone in the whole country knew that Gerry liked a drink and he spoke about it often on his Radio show! He was also a self professed hypochondriac and went for regular check-ups. Gerry Ryan had a loyal listenership of 180,000 who tuned in 5 days a week from Monday to Friday.

His big voice is sorely missed on the radio and the fact that he took cocaine doesn’t change the fact that he was by all accounts a brilliant father, a great husband and partner and the best Radio and TV personality this country has ever known!

Perhaps this is something that needs further investigation. It’s quite possible I’m totally wide of the mark here, no problem putting it out there for debate though!


The Irish Examiner.

The Irish Independent.


2 thoughts on “Unicef and Melanie Verwoerd.”

  1. Hi Leonie, I only today discovered your blog, I am enthralled, exacerbated, saddened and enthused all in one go. Your love for shane pours of every page, I remember that day so well and as a father I felt sick at the thought of what you must have and are probably still going through. Keep up the good fight and i’ll keep on reading.
    Adrian McKenna (Ado)


    1. Thank you Adrian for such a lovely comment this Sunday morning. Glad you found my blog; just don’t expect too much academic or Philosophical words of wisdom here. You’re more likely to get the musings of a sad/mad mother with a strange sense of humor. And yes, I miss and love Shane every second, but I feel he’s minding us from somewhere; our little fractured family.
      Thank-you again for being so nice,


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