Andrew Lynch: Garda investigation into RTE cocaine claim is totally right

Andrew Lynch

A comedian might suggest that some of RTE's programmes are so dire, the staff must have been off their heads on cocaine while making them.

Sadly, the sensational allegation that our national broadcaster has a culture of drug abuse protected by corrupt gardai is certainly no laughing matter.

It's too early to say how the garda probe into the story will develop or what will emerge from it.

But if the notion that everybody is equal in the eyes of the law is to mean anything, it's only right that a full police investigation is launched into the matter.

Almost eight months after Gerry Ryan died alone in a city centre apartment, there is a widespread feeling that we still haven't been told the full truth.


In the immediate aftermath, there was an unspoken agreement between his friends and colleagues that the 2FM DJ's hell-raising lifestyle should be quietly swept under the carpet.

Now that we all know cocaine played a significant part in his death, that attitude isn't good enough.

And anyone in RTE who is still hiding anything has a public duty to come clean now.

If the latest allegations are even half true, they have the potential to rock Montrose to its foundations.

It is claimed that RTE managers have been turning a blind eye to the coke habits of some of its biggest stars, even allowing them to take drugs on the premises.

There are also suggestions that crooked gardai have provided these household names with protection, despite knowing that one of Dublin's most notorious dealers receives half his trade from a certain building in Donnybrook.

One of Gerry Ryan's less successful television vehicles was called Secrets.

He knew as well as anyone that in a city the size of Dublin, it is hard to misbehave without people getting to hear about it sooner or later.

Every journalist in town knew about Charlie Haughey's affair with Terry Keane, for example, even if the libel laws meant that the story was kept out of the media for decades.

So if Gerry's drug habit really was being fed by such a well-known criminal, that person should be easy enough to trace.

RTE radio centre is largely made up of open-plan offices, which means that dozens of people who worked and socialised with Ryan must have had a fair idea of what was going on.

If a homeless junkie is found dead on the boardwalk, many people shrug and conclude that he only got what was coming to him.

But is there really such a big difference between that and a millionaire snorting cocaine in the toilets of a members-only nightclub?

If the drugs war is ever to be won, we need to realise that anybody who buys illegal substances is funding the most dangerous criminal enterprise on the planet. And however much they claim it's just a bit of harmless fun, they are left with blood on their hands.

While RTE has made plenty of programmes about working-class drug culture, their record of tackling its middle-class equivalent is much less impressive.


In 2007, a documentary called The High Society caused a sensation when it claimed that a Government minister, an airline pilot and a nun were all regular cocaine users.

Gerry Ryan should be judged on the totality of his life, not just one aspect of it.

He was a devoted family man and a gifted broadcaster who entertained millions of people for over 20 years.

He was also a reckless and irresponsible drug addict who paid the ultimate price for his stupidity -- and no matter how much the truth hurts, the public has a right to know the full facts behind his death.