O'Callaghan to blow whistle on rampant coke use in RTE
DJ says four more RTE stars using drug as he vows to name Ryan's dealer to gardai
FORMER RTE presenter and friend of Gerry Ryan, Gareth O'Callaghan, has lifted the lid on the rampant use of cocaine within RTE.
In an explosive interview with the Sunday Independent he has claimed the scourge of cocaine has infected every level of RTE -- including management -- and says Mr Ryan once offered him coke in the RTE staff canteen, telling him: "Don't knock it till you try it".
In his most revealing interview yet, the insider has also claimed:
- Four more high-profile stars are using cocaine.
- It's rampant in the media business.
- He is going to name Mr Ryan's dealer to gardai.
- He's been threatened with sinister calls since going public.
The shocking allegations come as pressure mounts on the national broadcaster for failing to do enough to cover the cocaine addiction and death of its biggest star.
A poll carried out by the Sunday Independent has also found that 68 per cent of people believe there has been a conspiracy of silence in RTE on Mr Ryan's drug-taking, with one respondent saying: "If he has been taking cocaine for years, several of his colleagues must know the source"; while 57 per cent believe there should be a Garda investigation to find the person, or persons, who supplied Mr Ryan with drugs.
Mr O'Callaghan said yesterday: "I know of three or four stars in RTE alone that are using the drug.
"People would get a huge shock if they realised how bad it actually is. That some of the people they look up to as celebrities -- who they listen to on the radio, who they watch at home on their TV sets -- use cocaine."
The former 2fm star also claimed he knows the names of Mr Ryan's drug dealers and will pass them on to gardai in the hope of securing a conviction.
"People need to come to terms with the fact that Gerry Ryan was a chronic drug abuser. And he was dealing with one or two individuals who he would have known for years. I know of one or two individuals who are well-connected in the industry. Two names which are regularly bandied about in media circles as the same people who supply the drugs to a few of them, including Gerry, and I have no problem talking to the guards about it.
"I will contact the guards with their names and if they can collect evidence and do something about it then all the better. These names don't come up again and again for no reason," he said.
And he warned: "The ramifications for these individuals if they were to be identified would drag the names of well-know media stars into the murky pool of water."
Speaking about the time Mr Ryan urged him to try cocaine he said: "Gerry asked me once if I had ever taken drugs. He had a great knack at sort of throwing a grenade into a conversation, and make it sound as normal as could be.
"It was after a segment he was doing on a cocaine bust that had been in the news and we were talking about it afterwards in the RTE canteen and I was saying how shocked I was by it," explained Mr O'Callaghan.
"He said, 'Have you ever taken drugs, Gareth?' And I said, 'No way, never'. He looked at me with sort of disbelief -- as if he thought I was pulling his leg, but I was adamant I would never touch them.
"That's when he said, 'Don't knock it 'til you try it,' and gave me this look with a glint in his eye. I can still remember it. I took it as an invitation. I shuddered. I knew he was doing it at that stage."
Speaking about the huge resistance he has come up against since speaking out about Mr Ryan's drug addiction, he said: "It's been the biggest shock of my career that people who I have worked with for 18 years have formed a solid impenetrable wall of silence. Since I have spoken out the phone has stopped ringing, I would usually be asked out for a drink -- this week the invites have stopped. Close friends of mine have stopped calling.
"You have to wonder what these people are hiding?
"One individual rang me anonymously saying, 'Who the f**k do you think you are?'. And I asked him, 'Are you afraid of what I'm going to do? Are you scared I'm getting a little too close for comfort? Did I cause you to lose sleep last night because you're going to lose a lot more by the time I'm finished.' There's something very sinister going on here to protect a lot of people.
"What has probably shocked people most about my comments is that I've always been seen as the quiet one. I never joined in but I was in a position to observe quietly and silently.
"I've seen a lot in my time and I think it's time the truth came out and this is all brought to a head.
"I feel quiet isolated this weekend. But I have had some very uplifting and positive calls from people in anti-drugs groups and addiction centres who have voiced their support and said well done for trying to break down this terrible wall of silence."