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Andrew Lynch: Why is it so hard for RTE to come clean on tragic death of icon Gerry Ryan

RTE is an Irish institution. We trust its news values and respect, even admire, presenters like Bryan Dobson, Miriam O'Callaghan, Pat Kenny and Joe Duffy.

But a far different side of the station was on show this weeky - different from the trusted personalities - it was Corporate RTE.

It's a side of the station which has been scrambling to protect its Corporate reputation.

Let's hope for eveyone's sake that the respected independent editorial side of the station can keep the corporate side at a distance.

Take Minister Pat Carey who has criticised the national broadcaster for its silence over Gerry Ryan's cocaine addiction.

Carey was pretty much jsut repeating what an RTE executive had said on Morning Ireland. Suddenly, by the evening news, the station was rejecting what Carey said.

Grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecednted, yes GUBU.

Now a newspaper reporter has found traces of heroin in the toilet of the station's canteen.

RTE still can't get to grips with the story of the coke habit which cost the station its top star.

It's been on the backfoot and is still in a spin. It's as if the station won't accept that Gerry Ryan, RTE's very own rock and roll star took coke.

How naive. But that's life on the high moral ground. It was also the attitude which led the station to issue its ill-advised statement criticising investigative journalist Jim Cusack.

And even the station's pals in The Irish Times aren't helping out - this time they just can't.

At the same time the man who replaced Gerry - Ryan Tubridy - is still not covering the type of story which Gerry himself undoubtedly would.

You could say the air in Donnybrook is now heavy with the sound of chickens coming home to roost.

Meanwhile, the details of Ryan's reckless lifestyle are gradually leaking out, with one of his former colleagues claiming that he snorted coke just before presenting the Eurovision Song Contest.

RTE's head of communications, Kevin Dawson, admits that the station did not cover the 2FM DJ's post-mortem as thoroughly as it should have.

Let's hope this was not because producers felt they would be ostracised or criticised within the station if they covered the story.

That would be a scandal.

The contrast between the effusive tributes after Ryan's death and the embarrassed silence last week was absolutely glaring.

As Minister Pat Carey has pointed out with grim satisfaction, RTE is always happy to seize the moral high ground when a politician steps out of line.

So why did it turn a blind eye to Ryan's drug habit when the dogs in the street knew that he had a serious problem?

The Irish public trust RTE.

But it has behaved unconscionably in this matter.

It's tried to cover up for one of its own - something the station would despite in anyone else.

Now is the time for director general Cahal Goan or his replacement Noel Curran to come and say something.

Trying to blame the Sunday Independent and other news organisations on air and in statements was plainly wrong.

Most Irish people loved Gerry Ryan and greatly mourned his loss. He was a giant in every sense but his employers are further tarnishing his memory with their sloppy handling of this story.

Gerry himself would have demanded no less.

He would have been the first to see the hypocrisy of his employers and the first to demand the right to the platform to address the issue.

The station has found that life on the high moral ground is a lonely place. Hopefully it will learn this time round.


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