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Friday 19 December 2014

Michael O'Doherty: Gareth, why the 16-year silence on Gerry?

SO 10 days after the publication of the autopsy report, during which everyone except RTE has been talking about Gerry Ryan, cocaine, and the wider implications of the drug in Irish society, RTE has broken its silence.

It has now admitted that "coverage within programmes last week of the issues around cocaine consumption in our society was less than it could have been".

Questions

In the intervening time, it's been left up to people like Gareth O'Callaghan to come out and ask the difficult questions.

All week, he's been quoted in the media, and has practically been alone as both a friend of Gerry's and a former RTE presenter in asking why the national broadcaster wouldn't deal with the issue.

On a one-man crusade against the scourge of cocaine, Gareth is certainly to be applauded for his stance. He has been brave enough to chronicle Gerry's fondness for the drug, how long that relationship has been going on, and how overt he was about discussing it, even within the RTE workplace itself. But one thing bothers me.

By his own admission, Gerry twice quizzed him "knowingly" about the drug. In 2003, at the Christmas party for his radio show, Gerry asked Gareth whether he had ever tried cocaine, and when the latter replied that he had no desire to ever do so, Gerry stared him down with the words "don't knock it 'til you've tried it".

Again in 2005, this time in the RTE canteen, Gareth recalls how Gerry asked him "in a meaningful way" if he'd ever tried cocaine.

And most shocking of all, he revealed how way back in 1994 a security woman had seen Gerry snorting cocaine at the Eurovision, and asked Gareth whether she should report it. He told her not to bother.

Gareth is patently mourning the loss of his friend, and particularly the circumstances of it.

"I wish I had the opportunity to put it up to him now," he says. "I would certainly have tried... I would have said, 'Listen, man, stop this'."

Obvious

Well I hate to state the obvious, Gareth, but according to your own admission, you've known about Gerry's drug use for 16 years. So what's taken you so long to come out and talk about it?

It seems you might have got a sympathetic ear -- RTE, in their statement, revealed that "management had received no reports or alerts that Gerry Ryan had been taking drugs", and imply that they would have taken strong action had anyone done so.

"The reason I am not afraid to say all these things publicly," reveals Gareth, "is because I would say them all to his face."

Perhaps this is something that you've already asked yourself, Gareth, but let me now be the one to ask the difficult question.

Why didn't you?

Dempsey sums up all that's bad in the Dail

It's ironic that just as Ireland is gripped by arctic weather, Noel Dempsey should announce his intention to resign from politics.

Because despite all his achievements (charging us 22c for plastic bags and, er...) Dempsey will always be known as the Minister for Transport who chose a sunbed in Malta over his desk in the Dail as the first big freeze hit us in January.

The image of him rubbing suntan lotion onto his belly as the country ground to a standstill is one that defines not only his own inept tenure as a minister, but everything that is wrong with Irish politics in general.

The staged standing 'shoulder to shoulder' with the party leader every time someone questioned his abilities, believing that blind loyalty to someone who was damaging the country is an honourable trait.

His shameless use on his website of a new train with the word 'Navan' on it, long after everyone realised that his promised rapid rail link extension to Navan was not going to happen, stands as a reminder of the small-minded nature of Irish politicians.

And then, as a last two fingers to the electorate, he decided to jump before he was pushed, take his €170k lump sum payment and €120k pension, and deprive the voters the chance to show what they feel about him, and boot him out on his arse.

Pension

Even at the very end, he reeks of someone who's simply looking after number one. By resigning now, rather than having to survive on a measly TD's salary after the next election, Dempsey retires with a pension based on his current earnings, rather than those of five years hence -- a difference of over €30k a year.

And he will no doubt follow the path of so many ministers before him and bag himself lucrative directorships.

He promised that "lessons had been learned" last January, and he would do a better job next time a big freeze hit. That was b****x as well. The image of the laneway leading to his house in Trim having been gritted, as bigger roads in the area went untreated, revealed that the only thing he had learned was how to look after himself.

Goodbye Noel, and good riddance.

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