I don't apologise for returning to the issue of Gerry Ryan. A week has now elapsed since it was revealed that Gerry Ryan died of massive and long-term cocaine usage: and six months have passed since his death.
I had hoped that RTE, the licence-funded national broadcaster, by this time would have made a statement upon the involvement of one of their foremost broadcasters in organised crime. But, of course, that's too much to hope for in the strange land of Montrosia, where principles only exist if someone else spells them out, in BLACK AND WHITE.
Had Gerry Ryan been a working class-boy from Drimnagh, he would have been called a "drug addict". He wasn't. He was a millionaire and so he just had a "coke habit". Either way, he was at the consuming end of the most evil drugs trade in the world. People died in the supply line which fed him his drugs. He therefore indirectly helped to make those deaths possible. He funded them. And he was fully aware of the nature of the trade in which he was a consumer, as Michael O'Toole of the 'Daily Star', has made plain.
Now, a couple of accusations are likely to be levelled at anyone who writes a column like this. The first is that I am being judgmental. Guilty, as charged. I do make judgments on the cocaine-business, especially since drugs are now the main cause of death of young men in half-a-dozen Dublin estates, and have almost turned Moyross into Little Bogota. The second charge is that it is showing little regard for the man's family. Possibly, but I hope I am showing some regard for families which have not yet been touched by cocaine use, but certainly will be if the broadcaster remains a celebrity-hero. For, if emulated by the working-class poor, Ryan's lifestyle will see them in Mountjoy Jail, six to a four-bunk cell, and a shit-filled chamber pot on the floor. Oh, and no state funeral when they OD.
RTE's silence in response to the revelations about Ryan's drugs dependency is in sharp contrast to how it treated his death. RTE radio virtually closed down the morning of his funeral, as 'public-service' broadcasters abandoned their duties in order to be seen there (so much for their understanding of the term 'public-service'). Ryan Tubridy's recent words, that Gerry Ryan should be let "rest in peace" and that he "would not abandon" his friend are merely unctuous waffle. The man is dead. He is not being abandoned if the world is told in detail about the criminal calamity that drugs had made of his life -- but RTE is already abandoning those other people who are not yet victims, but by God who will soon be if they follow the Ryan path.
This is not a once-off issue: that much was plain when Eamon Dunphy was introduced on 'Prime Time' recently as a voice of moral authority. This is the fine fellow who once complained about how difficult it was to get good cocaine in Dublin, and who managed to rack up nine driving and drink-driving charges before he was put off the road.
Clearly, to expect any meaningful moral ethos to emerge of its own accord from the ghastly concrete slabs of Montrose is almost like expecting Martyr's Memorial Church to conduct services in Latin. Meanwhile, the oxymoronic RTE Authority exhibits as much authority as a tentacle-less jellyfish in the Gulf Stream.
So from whom else can we expect leadership on this issue? Well, the President for one: clearly ignorant (as all of us -- well, outside RTE -- were) of Gerry Ryan's criminal habits, she attended his funeral, as did Health Minister Mary Harney and the Acting Chief of Staff, General Dave Ashe. All three would be truly appalled by the squalid reality of Gerry Ryan's life. She is the head of state, the most respected and acclaimed in our history. It is surely not politically inappropriate, or ultra vires, for the President now to distance herself from the systematic criminality that defined his private life, and brought him to an early death.
The alternative is the kind of meandering, maudlin sentimentality so classically enunciated by Father Brian D'Arcy, who, officiating at the Ryan funeral, maundered: "He would never mention God, but God would not be unmentioned." What does that mean? That I'm Father Trendy, and I've got to justify my presence at yet another showbiz funeral?
RTE once introduced broadcasting restrictions under Section 31 to prevent the IRA getting on to the airwaves. As the cocaine trade threatens to overwhelm entire communities, would it now be wrong for the Government to tell RTE to introduce cocaine-only blood-testing for all employees and contract staff? Or to prohibit access to the airwaves of known promoters of cocaine use, regardless of what they are talking about.