Thursday 18 April 2019

Gerry O'Carroll: RTE must drop veil of silence around cocaine

THE dusty, dark, 110-year-old Coroner's Court on Store Street is a long way from the Four Seasons or The Town Bar and Grill.

And it was a most sombre location for the family of the broadcaster Gerry Ryan, and his partner Melanie Verwoerd, to attend for his inquest.

The worst fears of those close to Ryan, fuelled by a whispering campaign, were confirmed when it emerged that cocaine was responsible for his untimely death.

The picture painted in the coroner's court of Ryan's last weeks on Earth were light years away from his elaborately constructed, and false, image of a man about town, brilliant broadcaster, bon viveur and housewives' favourite.


The sweaty, nervous, sleepless torment of his final days were a long way from the opulent image most people had of his life. In fact, the reality could not have been further from the surface act Ryan put on.

The picture that was painted by witnesses suggested a man whose life was spiralling out of control in his final weeks, as he descended into paranoia and despair.

Here was a frightened, haunted human being, tottering on the brink of catastrophe.

Plagued by stress, he was dependent on sleeping tablets and tranquilisers to find some peace.

Of course, behind the destruction of this great broadcaster was the scourge of cocaine, the drug which destroyed him mentally, physically and financially. Like the tragic demise of his pal Katy French, Ryan's death could be seen as a metaphor for the death of the Celtic Tiger era, those years of greed, excess and self entitlement.

The white death claimed both of these celebrities.

To cite the words of a former Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, those wealthy and middle-class people who buy drugs are culpable for the blood flowing on our streets as a result of gang feuds. I would urge the incoming Garda Commissioner to launch an investigation into all the circumstances surrounding the death of Gerry Ryan.

As part of such a probe his friends and colleagues, and those close to him, should be identified. I have no doubt that someone in Ryan's circle must know who his supplier was.

In fact, there has been a deafening silence on the part of the presenter's many so-called friends to comment on his cocaine habit, a habit that was well known in RTE. It was known that this insatiable habit was costing the man up to €2,000 a week.

Now I accept the comments of Joe Duffy, a man I hugely respect, who stated he knew nothing of Gerry's addiction.

I also accept Ryan Tubridy's remarks that he would not "abandon" his friend Gerry, despite the cocaine evidence.

Tubridy pleaded with listeners to leave Gerry in peace, while not condoning cocaine use. Sorry, Ryan, but no one is asking you to abandon your friends. However a wall of silence will do no justice to Gerry's death.

Could Gerry Ryan's habit have been just the tip of the iceberg in our national broadcaster?

Are others using their paycheck -- from the public purse I might add -- to fund such destructive anti-social behaviour?

His listeners -- myself included -- want to know where Ryan's pals were when he needed them. Where were they when he was clearly in the depths of despair?


The likes of Joe Jackson and Gareth O'Callaghan have stated that Gerry's drug use was known about, with Jackson stating it was an "open secret" in RTE. O'Callaghan approached Gerry with an offer of help, to his credit, but did any others?

We would hope that the controversy that has erupted as a result of Gerry's death will highlight the sinister and lethal corrupting effects of cocaine. It gives a lie forever to the perception of this substance as a socially acceptable designer drug.

Gerry Ryan's death should make cocaine users realise that this drug will leave decent, successful human beings to the gutter, an early grave, or both.

Those that know about it, in RTE or elsewhere, must come forward.

Roll on the election and the end of the Greens

ONE of the reasons I'm looking forward to the next election is to witness the annihilation of the Green Party as a political force in this country.

They once promised to bring a searing honesty to the political process. How they have failed. Since they went in to Government as a junior partner, they have displayed breathtaking hypocrisy.

The Greens supported Fianna Fail in one of the worst governments in the history of the State. They voted for the ludicrous blasphemy laws and the bank bailout.

In a final coup de grace to their credibility, we had their withdrawal from Government at one of the most crucial junctures in the history of the State.

But wait. When these incompetents realised that such a date wouldn't give them enough time to pass some of their cherished pet projects, they agreed to put it back.

It will be a good day for this country when John Gormley and his gormless crew disappear from the political landscape.

Mary was the moral winner and she'll reap the benefits

I was never an X Factor fan but the fairytale odyssey of Mary Byrne this year was simply irresistible.

The Ballyfermot belle had a magnificent voice and was streets ahead of the others from day one, including upstart teen Cher Lloyd.

I wasn't surprised to read this week that she won the popular vote on the night she was dumped out -- an exit that left a bad taste in all our mouths.

The show in which she was eliminated was clearly unfair after Simon Cowell decreed that the teenager Lloyd would go through.

It was a shocking decision, plainly wrong. But we can take comfort in the fact that we know Mary was the moral winner -- she had the real X Factor. And now it's time for her to reap the benefits.

Charming Sheen's Mass trip shows he's class act

FAIR play to Martin Sheen. We're well used to hearing tales of Hollywood stars' pampered excess, so I was surprised to read about the West Wing actor's night out in Dublin last Saturday.

No Four Seasons Hotel or L'Ecrivain restaurant for this man, he spent the evening at a mass with the good people of the Liberties at a church on Meath Street.

The star mingled afterwards with the real cream of Dublin, the street stall workers, the working men and women and, of course, the Herald's own true blue Dub, Jane Last. What a charming and heartwarming gesture.

Well done, Mr Sheen.

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