Spirituality Has Got Me through the Last Two Years; in His First Interview since the Fracas outside His Home, Mikey Graham Tells How Poetry and Religion Have Saved Him - and Why He Still Grieves for Stephen Gately

Daily Mail (London), September 21, 2013 | Go to article overview

Spirituality Has Got Me through the Last Two Years; in His First Interview since the Fracas outside His Home, Mikey Graham Tells How Poetry and Religion Have Saved Him - and Why He Still Grieves for Stephen Gately


Byline: by Eoin Murphy Entertainment Editor

OUTSIDE Dublin's Westbury Hotel, a photographer stands in the sunshine. With one eye on the hotel lobby and the other on passersby, he is on the lookout for celebrities to snap. So intent is he on scanning the crowds, however, that he doesn't notice a man with a black baseball cap pulled low slip by him and enter the building.

Going unnoticed has become something of a necessary skill for Mikey Graham over the past two years. Having spent almost two decades firmly in the spotlight as one fifth of boyband sensations Boyzone, his name hit the headlines for the wrong reasons almost a year-and-a-half ago.

In April 2012, it was alleged that Mikey had assaulted a man with a cricket bat outside his north Dublin home.

Engineering student Paul O'Hara, then 22, lodged a personal injury case against the singer, claiming that he suffered serious side-effects, including slurred speech, for several months after the alleged incident.

Mikey denied that he had hit Mr O'Hara and claimed that he had feared for his family's safety on the night in question.

In October 2012, the DPP decided not to press charges against him. It was suggested that he would still face a civil trial, but when we meet this week Mikey, 41, confirms that the case has been resolved.

'I don't want to talk about that subject in particular, other than to say that it was a very testing time for me,' he says, adding that he, his wife Karen and the rest of his family have now put the incident behind them.

The couple have a seven-year-old daughter Sienna Nicole, while Mikey also has a daughter Hannah, 16, from a previous relationship.

Once one of the most recognisable faces in the country, little has been seen of Mikey since the incident -- indeed, this is the first interview that he has given in more than two years.

Was his withdrawal from public life intentional? 'It is a funny thing really because I am a very private person -- a hugely private person,' he says.

'I am not up for social interaction on a large scale because, unfortunately, everyone has their own opinion of people in the public eye.

'And they will have no problem confronting you and telling you that, particularly if they have a few drinks on them. So I don't put myself into those situations to be honest.' Having known Mikey for some time, I'm aware that he has a deep faith.

I wonder whether this helped him through the challenges of the past two years? 'Yes it has,' he says. 'Spirituality has helped me come through it. But spirituality has been a constant in my life. Although more from maybe about the age of 25, when I became aware of my own mortality.

'I came out of childhood and teenage years and began to look at the world with a different perspective. You get to a point in your life where you hit milestones and start asking: "What's next?" For me it was thinking about spiritualism and the God question.' Of course, there was tragic cause for Mikey to be confronted with issues of mortality when his Boyzone bandmate Stephen Gately died suddenly in 2009, at the age of just 33.

Stephen was found dead by his partner Andrew at their flat in Majorca, with a post mortem revealing that he had an undetected heart defect.

Mikey admits that he is still really struggling to deal with his friend's premature death.

'Stephen's death is still very painful and raw,' he says. 'Do you ever really get over losing somebody? No you don't. It was only 2009 that we lost him. It takes a lifetime to recover from these things. We are down a man and will always be down a man.

'It is all horrible, it is wrong and it wasn't meant to be our story. I think that everybody is still shocked in the industry. It is the same old story in life -- you don't realise how great someone is until they are taken away from you. Stephen was a great friend and I always knew that, but now that he is gone I realise how much life and soul he brought to the group and to my life. …

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