Cooke aided abuse victim’s campaign against Catholic Church

Paedophile linked to disappearance of Philip Cairns used victim to get access to children

A file image from 2001 of convicted paedophile Eamon Cooke, owner of Radio Dublin. Photograph: Collins

A file image from 2001 of convicted paedophile Eamon Cooke, owner of Radio Dublin. Photograph: Collins


The convicted paedophile Eamon Cooke helped a woman to launch a campaign against the Catholic Church seeking compensation over clerical child sex abuse while he himself was abusing children.

The Irish Times understands Cooke then used his relationship with the woman, without her knowledge, to get access to children so he could abuse them.

The woman was abused for years as a child and Cooke befriended her and assisted her campaign for justice when she believed the church had promised to assist her but then failed to do so.

Cooke died earlier this month after being linked by a witness to the disappearance, presumed murder, of Dublin schoolboy Philip Cairns, who went missing in 1986.

Gardaí have identified a number of sites that may be searched in a bid to find the remains of the boy, who was 13 when he disappeared. One of the sites is in Co Sligo at a house Cooke was linked to, and there are at least four other sites in south Dublin and north Wicklow.

But because he was involved in pirate station Radio Dublin from 1975 and it moved around a great deal to frustrate Garda raids, Cooke had links to a large number of properties in Dublin, including at Inchicore, Ballyfermot, Clontarf and Cabra.

Earthmoving or construction

All of these sites will now be profiled to determine what access, if any, Cooke had to them in 1986 when Philip went missing and if any construction work or earthmoving had taken place there at that time.

A woman has come forward and claimed Cooke somehow enticed Philip from his home on Ballyroan Road, Rathfarnham, to the Radio Dublin studio in Inchicore. Philip was last seen leaving his home at about 1.30pm on Thursday, October 23rd, 1986, as he began his journey on foot back to Coláiste Éanna after lunch.

Despite extensive searches and numerous appeals for information, no trace of him has been found, apart from the canvas schoolbag.

The female witness, who was nine at the time, said she saw Philip lying injured on the ground in Radio Dublin’s studio on the day of his disappearance.

However, it remains unclear how Cooke knew Philip and how he would have enticed him away from his journey back to school to go across the city to a radio studio when he should have been in school.

The witness in the case first came forward after a public appeal by the Garda in 2011 on the 25th anniversary of Philip’s disappearance.

Past events

However, she did not give a statement until late April or early May this year, as gardaí have said she needed time to recall and piece together the events of 30 years ago.

By the time she gave a statement, Cooke was in a hospice in Raheny, north Dublin. While he was spoken to by the Garda, he does not appear to have made any admission to killing the boy or to have imparted any knowledge as to the whereabouts of his remains.

However, gardaí are hopeful the publicity generated in the media since news of the new witness coming forward, leaked out 10 days ago, will prompt others to come forward.

A number of sources have confirmed that other people who knew Cooke at the time have come forward. However, while a number of sites of interest have been identified for consideration, none has been excavated and there is no plan at this time to excavate them.

Radio activities

Cooke had also run a radio rental and repair shop on Thomas Street in Dublin’s south inner city, though his involvement in that appears to have ended in the mid-1970s.

It was at that point he became interested in pirate radio through customers who brought broadcasting kit to him to be repaired and he began Radio Dublin in 1975.

But, three years later, a large group of people working there left to set up a rival station because they suspected Cooke was abusing children.

And when he was later convicted and jailed on multiple counts of child sexual abuse, some of the offences dated back to 1978, the precise time Radio Dublin saw a mass departure of personnel.