Sinister end to former boyfriend of Irma Mali

AS IRMA Mali shifts from youthful confidence one minute to distraught confusion the next, you can hardly recognise her as one of Ireland’s top models.

Normally polished and very much the statuesque Lithuanian beauty who has taken the catwalks of Ireland – and beyond, to Paris, Milan and London – by storm, she sits at the table of a central Vilnius restaurant with her head in her hands.

She plays nervously with the 20 or so bracelets on her right arm, visibly struggling with the realisation that the first love of her life – the father of her daughter – is dead.

But his is no ordinary death, and the curious circumstances in which it happened are looking more sinister by the day.

Given that she has only just buried Marius Simanaitis – a martial arts expert and personal bodyguard to some of Ireland’s

wealthiest businessmen – she is understandably ill at ease. After all, this is the first time she has spoken publicly about

anything other than her modelling career.

Painfully shy by nature, she is fully, albeit reluctantly, aware that since her relationship with Script singer Danny

O’Donoghue became public earlier this year, she has been thrust into an unwelcome limelight of sorts.

But the suspicions around 28-year-old Marius’s death won’t let her be silent. She must speak out, she is convinced, for

the sake of his family and the Garda’s ongoing investigation into his death. It merited little more than a few paragraphs in

a newspaper report just over a week ago, and it was suggested that Marius, who was not named in the article, had

committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

His body had been discovered at 6.30am in an apartment near the Phoenix Park on March 11. He had died from a single gunshot to the head.

The pistol – which had been fitted with a silencer – was found firmly clasped in his hand. He was in the company of at least two other people and a large quantity of drink had been taken.

For Irma, the trauma was compounded by the way she found out. The shocking news didn’t come in the form of a polite

knock on the door from an apologetic garda. Instead, it came in a text message hours later from mutual friends, who have known each other since their teens.

Trembling nervously, Irma – who moved to Ireland with Marius more than six years ago – said: ‘They simply asked if I had heard. I hadn’t.

‘Finding out your ex-boyfriend is dead by text message is a very painful experience and I just didn’t believe it. I called his

brother and he came over with friends.’ What deeply troubles her is the suggestion that he could kill himself. As to the

possibility he could have been murdered, she cannot even bring herself to talk, let alone think, about it.

But his family are in no doubt he was murdered and even believe – because of what they have been told by witnesses

who stopped by Marius’s flat on the night he died as well as the accounts given by the last people to see him alive – that

his killer may actually have been a hitmanfor-hire from the internet, chillingly called Absolut after the vodka of the same

name.

Donatas Simanaitis, Marius’s older brother and president of a respected Lithuanian martial-arts federation, said: ‘There is

more to my brother’s death than meets the eye and I will not rest until I find out what happened and who was involved.

‘There is no doubt in my mind he was murdered. He didn’t just have a gunshot wound to his head.’

According to the family, Marius had severe bruising and a fractured skull to one side, a gunshot to the other, and defensive wounds on his

hand. Of course, the hand wounds could have pre-existed due to the fact that Marius, as stated, was a keen martial-arts

exponent.

Irma, whose surname is a shortened version of her family name, Malinauskaite, came to Ireland when she was 18, from

her home town of Alytus, near Vilnius.

She and Marius – who had recently been planning to return to Lithuania to go into business with Donatas – had been dating for some time. He got offered ‘a good job’ and left for Dublin. She, naturally, followed.

They set up home together and, three months after moving, she fell pregnant.

In 2003, she gave birth to Nikoleta. At the time, the couple were living in the north inner city, on Parnell Square.

He was working as a security guard and she was employed as a cook, though she took on occasional modelling

assignments.

Two years later, Irma – who had been modelling in Lithuania since she was 13 – walked into First Option modelling

agency in Dublin and was signed up on the spot.

By 2007, however, she and Marius had run their course and the couple parted.

The split was amicable and she made sure he received plenty of access to Nikoleta.

Irma’s modelling career took off and, last year, she was cast in the video for an up-and-coming rock band called The

Script.

The band’s lead singer, Danny O’Donoghue, was instantly smitten and they began, to use his phrase, ‘ courtin’. Last November, Dubliner Danny, 25, and

the statuesque Lithuanian were pictured after the Cheerios Childline concert, heading to the after- party in Lillie’s

Bordello.

They arrived at the star- studded bash arm- in- arm and were then spotted out together again the following month, at the

U2 Christmas bash in Bentley’s.

Now the couple are extremely close, and O’Donoghue has been extremely supportive during Irma’s fortnight of trauma.

While she knows that her relationship with the Meteor Award-winning star – whose band have enjoyed a No. 1 album here and in Britain and seem set to crack America next – will push Marius’s death further into the limelight, she is also

determined not to let that cloud the key question: how did her first love end up dying in a Phoenix Park apartment, shot in

the head with a silenced pistol?

Irma is trying to be strong for herself as well as six-year-old Nikoleta but she finds it hard to articulate the thought that her ex-partner was murdered.

Nevertheless, she is adamant he did not kill himself..

‘ I don’t want to believe he was murdered because of any implications that this realisation brings,’ she says carefully, ‘but

one thing I do know is that everything I know about Marius from our time together says he was definitely not the sort of

person to kill himself.’ ‘For a start, he was always very happy and positive, and had such an open, optimistic and

ambitious outlook on life. In all my time with him, he never showed any signs of depression whatsoever. He did not have

a dark side or a part of his character that I could not understand. He was an open book. I trusted him.

‘Secondly, he was devoted to his daughter. He adored her and was not the sort of person to forego his responsibilities.

‘He was utterly devoted to her.

‘Thirdly, in all the time I have known Marius – and I have known him since I was 14 – he has never taken drugs, never

been convicted of any crime and I have never known him to be associated with criminals.

‘I can understand that, because we are Lithuanian, there might be some narrow-minded people who will jump to

conclusions but he was one of the good guys.

‘I cannot believe he was found with a gun because I never saw any guns when I was with him. And yes, okay, he was a

fighter and whatever connotation martial arts has for people is one thing, but he was also a sportsman.

‘So, too, might be any connotation some might associate with security guards in general and bodyguards in particular but

if I did not believe he was anything other than what he was – a fit, strong, hard-working, decent guy – I would not say it.

‘I have lived my own life since we split more than two years ago and, as much as I loved him and stayed in touch with

him, if I suspected he was involved in anything unsavoury, I would say so. But he was a decent man.

‘I cannot bring myself to entertain too many thoughts about what did or didn’t happen because I have to be strong for

Nikoleta as much as for myself.

‘He only ever wanted the best for me and for our daughter. He was never a jealous man and we have led separate lives

for some time now.

‘If anybody thinks there is any relation between his death and my relationship with Danny, they are wrong.

‘He had his own relationships and plans for his future. We once planned a future together but we just grew apart. These

things happen.

‘Danny has been great. He has been very supportive but I do not think it is appropriate for me to bring him into this

situation,’ added Irma.

‘To be honest, I am just very confused right now, and reality just hasn’t sunk in yet. I am taking each day as it comes.

‘I have told Nikoleta that daddy is gone but I cannot explain everything to her. This is partly because I do not know myself but also because she is just very scared and doesn’t really know what to make of the situation.’ Marius was found in the early hours of Wednesday, March 11. The Friday before his death was the last time

Irma had spokes to him. Tears welling in her eyes, she insisted: ‘He was his normal self. He mentioned he was going to

Lithuania to meet up with his family.

‘It was normal for him to do that. I didn’t ask too many questions because it all seemed so normal, and I certainly don’t

think he was trying to tell me anything or say goodbye.

‘We talked all the time, although usually about access and when he was coming to see Nikoleta or take her somewhere.’

Donatas, however, is convinced Marius’s death was murder – not least because of the apparently conflicting accounts by

people who were in the flat on the night he died.

He said: ‘I have heard three versions of what they say – he committed suicide after they went to bed, he lost in a game of

Russian roulette or he was just fooling around with a gun and it went off by mistake.’ Bristling with grief-stricken anger,

Donatas added: ‘I wish they would make their minds up.

‘I wish also somebody would answer a few key questions – like why there were no powder burns on his face.

Why was the pistol still in his hand when he was discovered and where on earth did the gun come from? ‘Where is all the

money he was going to invest in the partnership with me? He had about E10,000 that he said he was going to bring over

and that money is now missing,’ he claimed.

Donatas, who is president of the Lithuanian Bushido Federation, also points to a number of other factors, namely that his

brother was not a big drinker and had never owned guns.

He and his family believe that the severe bruising and smashed skull are not consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot.

Instead, Donatas is convinced, his brother was beaten and shot and his death made to look like suicide.

Irma cannot bring herself to focus on these details in the way that Donatas does. For her, the overwhelming emotion is

loss.

‘I miss him, and I am devastated that he has gone,’ she says.

‘I have lost a friend and a former lover but, most importantly, my daughter has lost her father.’

Model Katy French has died.

 

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MODEL Katy French has died in the arms of her sister after falling into a coma. Doctors had fought a five-day battle to save the 24-year-old, who had been rushed to hospital after reportedly falling ill at a house in Co Meath in the early hours of Sunday morning,

She had apparently collapsed at the Kilmessan house sometime between 6am and 10am and was then admitted to Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan, 15 minutes away.

The news of her death – which was flashed around the world and made US-based Fox News as well as as UK-based broadcaster Sky News and BBC News 24’s Breaking News section within minutes – was confirmed by hospital staff in a brief statement and comes as the Gardai have launched a drug probe into her death.

It came exactly one week after she celebrated her 24th birthday with a lavish Dublin city centre bash in Harcourt Street’s Krystal night club – which cancelled its first birthday celebrations tonight as a mark of respect to one of its more celebrated former clients – and just weeks after she admitted how her life had been destroyed by cocaine.

The moving statement, which was released on behalf of Katy French’s family stated: ‘Katy passed away peacefully in the arms of her sister Jill and alongside her Mum and Dad.

‘Her family thanks everyone so much for all the prayers and support and especially all the staff in Navan Hospital who gave her special care and attention throughout.’

The 7.01pm statement tonight added: ‘We have been overwhelmed by the letters, blessings, gifts and prayers from people all over the country.

‘It gave us strength and helped Katy so much. Although we did not get our yearned for miracle, all the expressions of love you sent her were powerfully healing in different ways. And we hope that you can continue to send your love to her as she journeys on.’

About two hours later, Katy’s body was taken away from the hospital in a hearse, watched in silence by waiting reporters, photographers and stunned well-wishers and patients.

 

It was revealed yesterday that one of the model’s friends with her on the night she fell ill was socialite Kieron Ducie. He admitted: ‘I was one of the people who helped her, but I don’t want to say any more about it.’

The circumstances leading up to her collapsing at the Kilmessan house are look set to form the basis of a Gardai investigation, which is expected to be wide-ranging.

 

They confirmed that they are satisfied the model was not attending a party in the house where she fell ill but had instead been a visitor.

Katy’s brand new Range Rover had been seen parked outside Ducie’s house throughout the weekend, although it was removed by a friend shortly after she was hospitalised.

Three occupants of the house at the time have been questioned and are said to be co-operating fully with what is so far being described as a preliminary investigation into Katy’s death.

It is not known as yet if one of those occupants was Kieron’s 32-year-old wife Claire, a hairdresser and stylist. However, they are believed to have split a few years ago. Ducie, who comes from a respectable and wealthy Meath family headed by haulier Kevin Snr, has not been seen at the house in Kilmessan – where Katy was a regular visitor – for the past two days.

He is said by his younger brother Darren to be ‘very upset’ about what has happened.

A Garda spokesman had said before her death was made known: ‘We have received no complaint in connection with her illness, and – as a result – there is no basis for a full investigation.’

However, a short while later a spokesman added that officers were ‘continuing their enquiries and there will be no further details until the results of a post mortem are known’.

Someone from the State Pathologist’s office will conduct the post mortem – which will include a toxicology report – tomorrow afternoon, the funeral is due in a few days time and a full inquest in her death is likely to take place next January.

Since her arrival in the hospital, friends and family had been keeping a vigil at Katy’s bedside in the hospital’s intensive care unit and her condition had been described as ‘critical’ and she was believed to have been in a coma.

On Wednesday, doctors had hoped to be able to take Katy off her ventilator and let her breath on her own. Attempts on Monday and Tuesday had, however failed and at the time – experts had give her just a 20% chance of surviving.

A special Bebo tribute page had been set up by friends, where messages of support and well wishes had been posted over the past few days.

By 7pm tonight, the site had 609 members, who included fellow Assets models Jenny Lee Masterson and Michelle McGrath, who wrote: ‘Get well soon babe! know u can pull htrough this. UR a fighter . . . all my prayers and thoughts are with you and UR family . . . All my love, Shellxxxxxxx.’

 

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As well as collapsing, Katy – who had told reporters just days ago that she was on medication for a kidney complaint – was believed to have a suffered multiple heart attacks.

It is not known what triggered Katy’s illness but reports that she had possibly contracted meningitis were dismissed by medical experts.

As a mark of respect for Katy’s family, the planned launch of Irish Wedding Planner was called off, as it had been due to feature the model in a 12-page spread.

Boyzone star Keith Duffy said: ‘It’s a tragic situation, and my prayers and thoughts are with the family.’

At her 24th birthday party last Thursday, Katy revealed that she had a kidney infection and that she wasn’t planning to drink that night because she was on antibiotics. She had also joked that her gold mini dress wasn’t the best outfit to be wearing with an infection.

It was while perched on the back seat of the Rolls that dropped her off at the party that she was photographed by the Evening Herald – a tabloid owned by Sunday Independent and Independent newspapers publisher Independent News & Media.

The resulting story which appeared the following day zoomed in on a section of the underside of her left thigh and ran a P3 piece under the headline ‘Uh-oh Katy, is that dreaded cellulite we can see?’.

The article made snide remarks about the quality of Katy’s guests – saying that ‘rather then the A-list glitterati anticipated, those who joined in the fun were more local-list.’ It later added that ‘despite the less than A-list turnout’, Katy ‘had a blast’.

It is not known how she felt about the hurtful article, but it would have been the first newspaper report of her big event.

The house she had visited on Sunday is believed to have been one of a number of stop-offs she made in an almost non-stop round of partying. She is believed to have ‘hardly slept’ between Thursday night and Sunday morning.

Last weekend, Katy told a Sunday tabloid newspaper that she had taken cocaine in the past.

She revealed: ‘Cocaine messed my head up and is something I never want to go back to.
‘I’ve seen some of my friends almost losing everything because of coke but it’s not something that will happen to me.

‘Life is tough enough without self-inflicted pain, and that’s what coke is,’ she said.
And she had warned: ‘When you are doing coke the highs are great, but the lows are very, very low.’

The death of the former lingerie model, who shot to prominence after a very public split from her boyfriend Marcus Sweeney earlier this year, is the final chapter on a life that had been led very much in the spotlight.

Despite receiving more than her fair share of knockbacks, she battled on with her one-woman brand of self-promotion, and, as recently as last Thursday, she invited the press to her 24th birthday celebrations which she herself termed ‘a media event’.

She lived in Switzerland – where she was born – until she was about 2 ½ , when she and her family moved back to Ireland. Mother Janet was head of marketing at Guinness before setting up an online marketing company, Evotia.

Father John, who is a former MD of Novartis Pharmaceutical, split from Janet about two years ago but had maintained a united front as far as Katy was concerned, especially in her last few days.

The family lived in a large house in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, where Katy was able to indulge in her love of horse riding.

Katy went to Milltown’s exclusive Alexandra College, where she sat her Leaving Cert before going on to study sociology and psychology at University College Dublin.

She followed this up by joining the Dublin-based Assets Modelling Agency in the summer of 2002.

At the time, she told reporters: ‘A few people had mentioned (modeling) to me before and I just thought one day it would be a great way of making some extra money and having fun as well. ‘I don’t think it was ever about the glamour of it, it was more a business venture for me.’

With her good nature, sense of humour and dedication, she was very soon gracing the pages of the country’s newspapers. She soon became something of an It Girl about town, and – in just a short space of time – managed to land lucrative contracts with a variety of household companies such as Pepsi and Dunnes Stores.

But while she was undeniably successful, it wasn’t until January that she shot to national prominence after her fiancé Marcus took grave exception to Katy’s penchant for taking her clothes off to model.

The one-time happy couple, who were often spotted on the Dublin party scene, had intended to tie the knot in the spring, in the eternal city of Rome. But the photo shoot in Number 10 restaurant in South William Street put paid to that.

Any hopes of a reconciliation after the modelling row came to a swift end when Marcus sent Katy a barrage of abusive text messages – which somehow they all ended up being reprinted in a newspaper.

In the ensuing fight back, Marcus let slip that Katy had spurned his modest engagement ring in favour of a much larger, shinier and more ostentatious version, which she picked up from a wear for E14.

She managed to capitalize on the split – some would say – spectacularly well and made the break to a wider audience when she landed a place on RTÉ’s Celebrities Go Wild, for People In Need, as well as appearing on a number of chat shows, including a memorable appearance on the Late Late in which she shared a coffin with a boa constrictor.

The stunt was a part of the show where viewers voted on which of four celebrities should confront their fears and phobias. It’ll come as no surprise that the attractive blonde was the viewers’ top choice.

Katy bravely spent 30 seconds in the coffin with the Burmese python and, in doing so, earned e15,000 for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, Co. Dublin.

She completed three other tasks, with each one earning her charity €5,000. At the time, she said she endured the gruesome tasks in honour of a cousin who died, aged 21, of cystic fibrosis, and the children of two close friends who died of leukaemia.

 

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Katy said: ‘What I had to do looked and felt a bit sickening – believe me, sticking your face in a container full of maggots is no fun at all. And being locked in with the python was pretty damned frightening.

‘But it all pales into insignificance compared to what other people who suffer from illnesses have to endure.

‘There is nothing my aunt and uncle wouldn’t do to bring back their son, Simon. I was very close to him when I was growing up and he had a terrible time before he died. It broke so many people’s hearts to lose him so young.

‘I’m just really glad that members of the public voted for me to do what I had to do because it raised e30,000 for a very worthwhile cause.’

Her previous boyfriends have included car dealer, Damien Gilson, the brother of fellow model Glenda. Katy was pitted against Glenda earlier this year by the bookies, in a contest over who would earn the most column inches.

Katy was said to be disappointed to have lost – and redoubled her efforts in the subsequent months.

She has also been linked with marketing man Ivan Cummins, and was even briefly engaged to Sasha Evans, who ran the now defunct Bridge Café in Ballsbridge.

Her friends include top model and Assets model boss Andrea Roche, and You’re A Star judge and columnist Brendan O’Connor – with whom she had become increasingly close over the past few months.

Her publicly stated view on abortion – that she would not bring a child into the world if she could not provide for it – earned her the tag ‘controversial’, and may have contributed to her being the first person voted off Celebrities Go Wild.

And her recent admission that she has taken cocaine in the past, having previously denied touching hard drugs, had left commentators baffled.

She said only last week: ‘Things in the papers constantly upset me, but, you see, I’m kind of my own publicist.

‘I’m only 24 – I don’t always know necessarily what is the right PR way to do things.’

Her mother, Janet, said at the time: ‘Sometimes she says to me that she’s seen a website chat and it’s awful the things they’ve said about her.

‘Sometimes she’s okay about it but sometimes it gets her down. I say to her, “A lot of people have written rotten things but a lot of people have written good things.

‘Which ones do you want to listen to? You cannot be loved by everybody. Nobody can.”’

And her father, John, said: ‘I think Katy was miscalculated as simply a blonde model.’

ENDS

Brian Ormond and Mezzalie McGarry

You’re A Star presenter Brian Ormond is dating the widow of a Sligo club impresario. Mezzalie McGarry, 36, has turned to him after the sudden and tragic death of husband, Philip, eight months ago.

He died of a stroke in April, aged 43, leaving behind his wife of 10 years and the couple’s eight-year-old son. Since he died, Mezzalie has taken over the running of two nightclubs in Sligo town, Envy and the recently opened Velvet Room, which her husband had set up. They are jointly worth at least E4.5m.

Ormond, in a self-penned newspaper column, said of the relationship: ‘I’ve been seeing my new girlfriend Mezzalie McGarry for a while now and we’re getting on great. We’re very happy.’ And he added: ‘She regularly comes up to Dublin to stay with me. It’s great. We love seeing each other.’ The 27-year-old RTÉ presenter – who briefly dated actress Tara Leniston – met Mezzalie in September, just five months after her husband died.

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Last Wednesday, the pair were spotted at the famous Tobernalt Holy Well site a few miles from Sligo town – a romantic spot frequented by courting couples. They have also been seen out at more public events – like the recent opening night of the Ross O’Carroll-Kelly play, The Last Days of the Celtic Tiger, at Dublin’s Olympia.

Former croupier Mezzalie – or Mez to her friends – met her late husband Philip about 13 years ago while on a trip around the world. She had visited Australia before taking what was supposed to be a fleeting trip to Sligo.

At that time, Philip was running the town’s Envy nightclub. Shortly after Mez met him, they started dating and she began working at the club as a barmaid. She soon became a fixture at the venue but stopped working there shortly after her marriage in June 1997.

The birth of the couple’s son followed two years later. When her child was six, Mezzalie began selling therapeutic shoes from their Carrowmore home for the Swedish MBT – Masai Barefoot Technology – franchise. She soon became their biggest-selling agent and opened one store with Philip’s help.

In 2006, he achieved the ambition of a lifetime when he opened his trendy night spot, the Velvet Room – a move that cost him more than E3m.

The club was a favourite haunt of celebrities, including his close pals from Westlife, Shane Filan and Kian Egan. Both singers were at his widow’s side at his funeral in May. Philip was born with a defective neck vein, which is believed to have caused his fatal stroke.

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A former work colleague of Mez described the go-getting business-woman last night, saying: ‘When she sees something worth doing, she goes for it and invariably does very well. She’s very astute, very driven.

‘I don’t know very much about Brian but he’s certainly going to have to work hard at keeping her impressed and interested. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly.’

Mez is also said to enjoy her nightlife and has an eclectic circle of friends. Her friend revealed: ‘Mez has quite a few close gay and lesbian friends. She’s very open-minded.’

Some of Mezz’s friends at a party in the basement of his house.

With the help of her 70-year-old father, Per Ekberg, she has ploughed her energies into running the clubs. Until recently, Philip’s brother Niall was a director of Philip’s companies Irish Nightclubs & Leisure Ltd and Rowan Heath Ltd. He resigned from both companies after just a few months. Mr Ekberg has since been appointed a director of the companies.

However, control of another of Philip’s companies – Vallicelli Ltd – remains in the hands of his mother, Noreen. She is listed as the only surviving director of the company, which appears to own Philip’s palatial house, which is valued at more than €820,000. 

RTE fashion show going Off the Rails?

AS THEIR hit RTÉ show Off The Rails enjoys its eighth year, presenters Pamela Flood and Caroline Morahan’s reign as the country’s favourite fashionistas would seem unassailable.

And with their manicured fingertips firmly on the bellybutton of Ireland’s fashion zeitgeist, they appear more than qualified to hold forth on beauty tips and high-street trends.

Such is the show’s popularity that it is regularly inundated by women keen to improve their own appearance at the behest of any one of the show’s roster of socalled image consultants.

But now it looks like the show’s presenters are heading for something of a makeover of their own. And it could be far more extreme in nature than either of them realise.

Indeed, there is even talk that Off The Rails may be shuddering towards an unseemly halt.

A behind-the-scenes meeting recently highlighted the need to ditch one of the show’s more successful segments, the Beat The Stylist slot.

And the Irish Mail on Sunday has learned that independent production companies have been approached by RTÉ to come up with ‘ideas for a new fashion show’.

Staff at one company – Coco Television – confirmed it was ‘one of many’ who recently submitted a number of proposals for lifestyle programmes ‘including fashion’.

MAKEOVER: Off The Rails presenters Caroline Morahan and Pamela Flood Beat The Stylist has been scrapped Both former journalist Caroline and ex-Miss Ireland Pamela are said to have been ‘shell-shocked’ after staff on the show were told the future of the show was in doubt.

It is understood that at least one young stylist and image consultant has already been signed up to front a new fashion programme for RTÉ in 2008.

That Off The Rails could be taken off air has stunned fashion and TV industry insiders alike.

Both presenters have proved very popular with viewers, regularly drawing in more than 430,000 viewers each week.

A spokesman for Coco Television said last night: ‘RTÉ are looking for ideas on fashion shows but there has been no final decision for the replacement of Off The Rails. We don’t even know if they are even going to replace Off The Rails.

‘Although, along with a number of other production companies, we have submitted fashion ideas, we have received no commission to produce a new show.’ An RTÉ spokeswoman said: ‘No final decision has been taken as to whether there will be another Off The Rails.

‘It has been phenomenally successful and indeed is in the middle of its eighth and most successful run.’ She added: ‘What has been scrapped is Beat The Stylist.’ The arrival of a new producer has led to the show appearing to be far sharper and racier than in previous years.

Talk of the show’s demise may be exaggerated but it joins a growing chorus in favour of younger, more fresh-faced presenters. Is this the beginning of the end for the long-running fashion show?

U2 arrest

U2 singer Bono’s security staff were forced to call in gardai after a gang of drunken youths turned up at his Dublin home.

They hurled abuse over the fortified walls of his €8m Dublin home and exposed themselves in front of CCTV cameras trained on the entrance gates.

Rather than get into a face-to-face confrontation with them, Bono’s domestic security team called the local garda station.

A unit arrived at the mansion, which overlooks Dublin’s Killiney Bay, and arrested one youth at shops nearby.

After a struggle, Robert Canavan, 24, of Eaton Wood Court, Shankhill, was taken into custody.

Before he was handcuffed and led away, he – according to witnesses – appeared to be talking ‘gibberish’ and hurled abuse at gardai who he told the ‘f**k off’ and to ‘get their hands off him’.

At a sitting of Dun Laoghaire District Court, he admitted he was at Bono’s house at the same time as the gang of youths but denied being involved in any of the antics they got up to.

He explained his behaviour towards gardai as being a consequence of being on medication and said he had only happened to be at Bono’s house because he bumped into his friends there while he was on his way home late last Saturday night.

Sgt Peadar McCann told the court: ‘Gardai attended the scene and the complaint was that a group of youths were there, exposing themselves in front of the security camera at the front gate and screaming abuse at the Hewson family.

‘The gardai attempted to arrest the defendant but were met with strong resistance.

‘A struggle ensued and they eventually managed to handcuff him’.

Canavan was bound over to keep the peace in what was the latest incident to involve one of Bono’s large collection of homes.

It was reported recently that Bono is in dispute with his neighbours in New York over open fires being lit in an apartment block where he has a flat.

The singer complained about the fires, telling a residents’ leader that one of his daughters has asthma and the fires were affecting her condition.

ENDS

U2’s latest round of house-keeping

HE SPENDS a lot of his time lobbying and lecturing heads of state on the laudable subject of Third World debt.

But U2 star Bono is also doing a thing or two about sizeable debts of another kind – namely, those much closer to home and amassed over the years by a string of his own companies.

Latest accounts filed by the campaigning singer and his fellow band members reveal the band has written off more than E10m of at least E24m owed to them by their own companies.

They have also decided to shut down five of their companies registered in Ireland.

Rock accounts expert Cliff Dane said last night: ‘Following on from the band’s shrewd decision to move some of its accounts abroad, it looks like they are currently going through something of a corporate spring clean.

‘It’s still very difficult to see what exactly they are up to but it would appear that their drive for greater financial efficiency continues unabated.’ Last year, the band revealed it was moving some of its vast financial operations to Amsterdam after the Government decided to reform previously favourable tax laws relating to artists.

The move sparked accusations of hypocrisy against the multimillionaire singer, in particular, for encouraging people paying a considerably higher proportion of tax on their income than he does, to give money to charitable causes he espouses.

These include the Global Fund To Fight Aids in Africa, which is funded from income raised each time products from a host of big brands like Gap, Apple and Motorola are purchased using the campaign’s Red American Express Card.

The initiative, which Bono launched just over six months ago, was recently accused of spending more money advertising itself than it had raised for charity in the six months since its launch.

U2’s move to axe some of its companies was made a few weeks ago and lodged with the Companies Registration Office in Dublin.

The list includes Thengel Ltd, which all the members of the band – and manager Paul Mc-Guinness – have been directors of since 1980. The other companies run by the band are Remond, Straypass and the Fair City Trust.

Remond Ltd, a subsidiary of U2’s holding company, Not Us Ltd, last September showed a balance in December 31, 2005, of just E3 after a debt of E10,499,440 from the previous period was written off.

This debt appears to be partially made up of E4.2m owed to Not Us Ltd, E3.6m to Target Tours Inc – which is a whollyowned subsidiary of Not Us Ltd – and E1.3m owed to another Not Us Ltd subsidiary, U2 Ltd.

In addition, E1.1m owed to Remond Ltd by a firm called U2 Partnership and a further E3.1m owed by another Not Us subsidiary called Eventcorp were written off.

Eventcorp’s E293,917 debt to Not Us Ltd subsidiary Sam Tours Inc was written off, as was almost all of the firm’s E296,060 debt to the U2 Partnership.

It was decided that just E731 was ‘recoverable’.

A E2.2m debt Not Us Ltd owed another U2 firm has also been written off.

As far as the bulk of the money owed was concerned, the accounts for Remond state that ‘the directors decided it was not recoverable’ and ‘therefore written off’.

However, one debt that hasn’t been reduced is the E14.3m owed to Lakehaven, a firm run by Bono and the Edge. As well as lending E17,901 to a Swiss subsidiary called Adloff SA, the Dublin firm loaned another one of its subsidiaries – France-based SCI Nouvelle Immobiliere des Plages – an additional E2.3m in the year to December 31, 2005, on top of the E11.9m it loaned it in 2004.

Ravencrest Ltd – whose directors are Bono, his wife, Ali, and the Edge – also appears to be quite cash rich and shows assets of E1.5m for the year ending March 31, 2006, as opposed to debts of E280,291 the previous year.

Another firm – Parlade Investments, which is run by bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen – is also up for the chop.

Indeed, the various interests by the individual band members are increasingly becoming more segregated. While Irish companies they share directorships of are being closed down, more companies are being set up around individual members.

Bono, for example, recently launched two new firms – Paulisper and PDH Communications. His fellow directors are his wife in one firm and pal Peter Lacy in another.

But nobody is accusing the band of being short of a few euros.

All four members live in a string of lavish homes scattered around the globe – just some of the trappings of the wealth generated by their phenomenal success.

Indeed, U2 was estimated in 2006 to be the world’s most profitable rock band with earnings of more than E160 million.

Mr Dane added: ‘The members of this band are each very, very wealthy in their own right.’ The band are believed to be worth around E600m but property deals could swell this figure to more than E1bn in under 10 years.

Clayton splits with fiancee

 U2’s Adam Clayton has split from his fiancee Suzanne Smith. Friends of the 46-year-old bassist say they parted a few weeks after Christmas.

The couple, who have been going out for the past ten years, are said to remain on good terms.

But it has come as a shock to Clayton’s friends.

The couple only got engaged last year in London on Valentine’s Day. Canadian-born Smith, who used to work as U2 manager Paul McGuiness’ personal assistant, lived with Clayton at his €4m Georgian mansion in Rathfarnham.

But she is now believed to have moved out and is living in London, where she works as a record industry executive.

Reasons for the split are not known. This is the second time Clayton has split from a fiancee. His first was temperamental supermodel Naomi Campbell, to whom he got engaged in May 1993 two months after meeting.

Campbell ended their relationship in April 1994 but remains on good terms with him.

In a recent magazine interview, she referred to him as ‘a wonderful friend’. Clayton was unavailable for comment last night but a friend of the star said: ‘There is nobody else involved, and they have just decided that – for now at least – it would be better if they led their lives apart.’

ENDS