Why won’t RTE talk about their star’s drug problem?
Now outrage is growing over state broadcaster’s refusal to cover the revelations of late broadcaster’s drug use, reports Geraldine Gittens
SO WHY won’t RTE talk about cocaine, in the week we learned that the drug was responsible for the death of its greatest star?
What have those who inhabit the corridors of Montrose got to fear from bringing the issue into the public domain, and highlighting its devastating dangers?
While the rest of the Dublin media scene, and showbiz circles had been acutely aware of Gerry’s fondness for the drug, it seems nobody in Donnybrook was aware of the problem.
His former radio boss John Clarke, his colleague and friend Joe Duffy – who admitted he had been naive about the situation – and a host of fellow workers said they knew nothing.
Even in the wake of the tragedy, Gerry’s 2FM replacement Ryan Tubridy blamed the press for their coverage of the story – and refused to deal with the story as a professional, impartial, objective observer.
When Katy French died Gerry showed his true colours as a fearless and thoroughly brilliant journalist, discussing the tragedy to highlight the dangers of cocaine.
This may have been hypocritical in hindsight, but it nonetheless highlights today the massive paranoia and inadequacies that lurk in Radio Centre, RTE, now that Gerry has gone.
As everyone in Montrose continues to skirt the issue, it has taken a former colleague and friend of Gerry to speak candidly about RTE and cocaine.
Gareth O’Callaghan, a former 2FM DJ who now works for 4FM, also described RTE management as a “curious beast” which took a reserved approach to its employees’ lives.
The former RTE employee said he was not aware of any drugs culture in Montrose when he worked alongside the star – except for one: Gerry Ryan.
Gareth O’Callaghan revealed today that colleagues of Gerry told him that he had snorted cocaine before going on stage to present the Eurovision in the Point Theatre in 1994, for the biggest night of his career – and it was then that Gerry began to change.
“He became quite aloof and he surrounded himself with a very close knit, and hard working group of individuals.
“He changed and he relished the idea that he was a bit of a rebel and that he was allowed to be a rebel on air.
“It was almost as if he became a member of the Rolling Stones. “Certainly the story started then and there was a rumour going around.
“I was told by a number of people, who I thought were reliable sources, that he had taken cocaine on the night of the Eurovision Song Contest.”
O’Callaghan stressed: “I don’t know who the supplier was, but I thought no, he couldn’t be, on the biggest night of his life, he couldn’t jeopardise that.
“The question begs to be asked, if someone watched him do it or was helping him.”
Gareth said that Gerry was very clever about hiding his cocaine habit.
“He was extremely astute in terms of guarding where he did it and how he did it, and he preferred to collect them himself.” But he added: “Management in RTE is a curious beast. It can be extremely supportive at times but it can be very distant, and often times you’re not quite sure who is the appropriate manager to go to.
“They are so distant and at times I don’t think they fully realise or grasp what’s going on. But because you’re selfemployed, the onus is on you to look after your own things like social welfare and tax.”
Meanwhile, the former colleague of Gerry’s said that RTE would never learn from the star’s death, and it should have allowed the public to call in to Joe Duffy about Gerry’s cocaine use.
“I don’t think that RTE will ever learn. They’re so embarrassed by this and clearly it’s the biggest topic of the year.
“They could have opened the phone lines and let listeners talk about how they feel, but it’s typical of RTE and they run and hide when something like this happens. It was something that frustrated me when I worked there.”
“For a media company that gave so much time, for a week and a half, after the death not to acknowledge that he had a drugs problem, it’s seismically incomprehensible.”
Gareth, who yesterday branded Gerry a “hypocrite” and a “liar,” said he had numerous personalities which was why people never knew he was high on cocaine.
“Everyone heard the rumours, the rumours were rampant. But the attitude was that Gerry just thinks he’s one of the Rolling Stones, and it was accepted that he gave off an element of arrogance.
“People said that he was a very temperamental guy, and they just left him to what he does. I think he had incredible energy and there were so many different characters that were Gerry Ryan.”
He added: “I will always remember him as a hypocrite and a liar. He lied to so many people. He was the man who set up Operation Transformation, and even that expression is strangely nauseous now.”
Meanwhile, Ian Dempsey said he was not aware of Gerry’s cocaine use, and he believed it was up to individual employees of RTE to take responsibility for their own health.
“I didn’t know about it and I worked beside Gerry every day. I’m either stupid or I was protected from the whole thing.”
He added: “I think the country as a whole should have some sort of policy. It’s up to the individual. They (RTE) can have guidelines but at the end of the day, it’s up to the individual themselves.”
A spokesperson from RTE refused to comment on whether it was aware that Gerry Ryan took drugs before going on air.
However, he said: “RTE has in place a staff manual, with detailed policy and procedures for staff with regard to health and safety, stress management, health checks and a range of issues that may arise for any employee.
“Elements of this manual extend to contractors also, notably with regard to dignity and respect, acceptable demands, and the working environment.
“While RTE cannot comment on individual cases, RTE can state that it is confident that appropriate care has extended to service providers and staff alike.”