RTE admits to mistakes in drugs coverage of Gerry Ryan fallout

Kevin Doyle

RTE has admitted that it was wrong to censor coverage of Gerry Ryan's cocaine use.

The national broadcaster confirmed today that it limited coverage of the star's inquest on radio and television.

A spokesman said that it had taken the station “a few days to realise” that it hadn't covered the outcome as “vigorously as it could have”.

Head of Corporate Communications, Kevin Dawson, said: “The combination of relatively restrained corporate comment and a lower level of discussion in daily programmes than might have been expected, did give the impression of RTE being much quieter than it should be on some important issues that do arise.”


Mr Dawson also denied that RTE had any knowledge of Gerry's drug abuse and described management's reaction to the outcome of the inquest as “absolute shock”.

As gardai prepared to quiz several of Gerry Ryan’s RTE pals over his coke habit, Mr Dawson explained: “I think we were right to try and draw a line. I think, perhaps, we drew it in the wrong place.”

Garda inquiries will date back as far as the Eurovision in 1994 where Ryan took cocaine.

Calls were made for RTE to “co-operate fully” with the investigation on foot of allegations that senior gardai helped to protect celebrities such as Ryan.

Fine Gael's Alan Shatter today called on gardai to “wage all out war” on those who supplied drugs to Gerry Ryan and others.

“I hope that whatever investigation takes place get the full co-operation from those in the know within RTE,” he told the Herald.

Labour's justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte today welcomed the garda investigation, telling that Herald that the allegations are “very serious from a reputable journalist”.

“It's right that it should be investigated,” he added.

Asked on RTE's own Morning Ireland about whether station bosses had any knowledge or suspicion about Ryan's cocaine habit, Mr Dawson said they “did not have any reason to believe that Gerry Ryan was using drugs”.

“What's happened over the last week in respect of reflections on Gerry Ryan's life and broader reflection emanating from that is that an anecdotal picture has begun to shape up, which may or may not be reliable,” he added.

He said that in discussion since Ryan's inquest, the general view has been that many years ago amongst people who knew Gerry Ryan closely, or worked with him closely, there had been “a suspicion among some that he may have been using cocaine”.

“But in recent years and for many years the feeling among people, including those closest to him, was that he was not.”

He added that it would be “an extreme interpretation” to suggest that RTE had failed Gerry Ryan.