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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 12, 2010 @ 11:03 am

    Wall to Wall on Gerry Ryan

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    There is wall-to-wall coverage of  the Gerry Ryan inquest and its implications in the Sunday papers. As an astute reviewer of the papers on his own radio show, he would well understand the irresistible lure of the story for broadsheets, tabloids or – new word – “compacts”.

    Having said that, one has to feel the greatest sympathy for his loved ones who, having already endured the deep sorrow of his death and funeral, must now suffer the slings and arrows directed against Gerry in the media.

    It has to be said, though, that the inquest has done us all a service in highlighting the issue of cocaine usage in our society. This window won’t stay open for long, so the opportunity should immediately be taken to initiate a debate on the matter.

    For a long time now, this particular blogger has been banging on about the need to create a climate of severe disapproval, in addition to rigorous enforcement of the law, in relation to hard-drug consumption, especially among elements of  the “educated” classes, not least in the media/entertainment sector.

    The law on drink-driving has worked very well, although I accept that it is much easier to enforce. There has been a cultural change and, by and large, it is now just not acceptable to drink and drive. The smoking ban also shows how behavioural change can be achieved.

    There needs to be a cultural change in relation to drug usage as well. The implications have to be brought home to people. I recall Vice-President Santos of Colombia saying to me that when people use cocaine they are putting blood up their noses – not their own blood but that of the multitudinous victims of the horrific cocaine trade.

    If we could get that debate going, then Gerry Ryan, whom I knew personally and who was a highly-intelligent, talented and in many ways very humane individual, will not have died in vain.

    • Leadhead says:

      The common thread between the decline in tobacco use and drinking is financial, rather than good health and common sense. If there were a way to punishingly tax it, there would be fewer coke-heads. I think!

      But, drug use isn’t a cause celebre. Protests in front of Carrolls or Guinness happen but the known drug dealers in Dublin are let off the hook, no public outrage.

    • Must say I wasn’t aware of anti-drink or cigarette protests! When did they take place?

    • robespierre says:

      While I empathise with his family I must say that this was heavily alluded to at the time of his passing and for this lurid rubbish to have taken up so much print space is appalling journalism. It is easy copy, easily copied.

      I completely agree that the issue of cocaine and its impact is usefully demonstrated by his demise but overall the sense of ennui at the passing of a wealthy but profligate man leaves me cool.

      I feel great sympathy for full time carers, the lonely, the homeless. They are more worthy if less obvious centres for our focus. But then blessed are the meek… & it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven…

    • Jessie says:

      It’s bizarre that when there are thousands of people dying from homeless, drug addiction and alcohol addiction, it takes ONE well-known Irish man to die after “misadventure” to highlight that cocaine is indeed, fatal. What a sick society we live in.

      The same people that live on the streets, that die everyday from drug and alcohol related fatality are those too, that are under pressure. And yet, their deaths would never be newsworthy. Neither would be an overstressed student of the education system, nor the death of the unemployed at the brink of desperation in keeping a roof over their head.

      Someone in the media has forgotten what is important. I extend my sympathies to the family and friends effected, but why should it take an issue that is blatantly staring everyone in the face everyday of our lives?

      I have spoken to one particular former head shop trader, and in the run ups to the legislation change banning “legal highs” I welcomed the watching of it, the policing of it, but not the banning, on the basis that it would push more people to looking towards illegal drugs served by criminal gangs and purge money out of the economy. Around the corner from that particular former head shop were gangs selling heroin, but not in the common form, but as a joint. And at a fair price, too. I fear that many regulars to that particular former head shop, ordinary decent people some with jobs, some without, some looking for an alternative to the socially acceptable binge drinking culture, I fear they have all gone the way of “misadventure” in smoking heroin, injecting heroin and snorting cocaine.

      To the media, to socially acceptable binge drinking Ireland, sure, who cares of one homeless man who died in the cold, or one alcoholic who drowns in the river, who cares of the heroin junkies and coke heads who die by the dozens, sure, they’re just people of no importance to society. Gerry Ryan a well-known broadcaster of radio and television, a somebody of society, we must suddenly underline and highlight the dangers of not having someone to talk to, in being stressed and having problems, highlight and underline the dangers of taking drugs.

      Come off it. Look around you and see the children or Ireland dying on your streets unnoticed everyday. Nobodies that no one in media will care to write a story on.

    • Adam says:

      One has to assume that you are for the prohibition of drink and cigarettes, because it is, ultimately, an untenable and illogical position to say that the solution for cocaine use is strict illegality and strong moral disapproval and that it isn’t the solution for all drug use.

      Also the “blood of the innocents” argument is not a great one in this respect, because most intelligent people who have a modicum of understanding of the history of prohibition realise that legislating against drug use creates the criminal culture around drugs. If iphones were illegal there’d be criminality involved in purchasing them too.

      Consider, if the internet had existed, and you had been a blogger in 20s and 30s America, and Gerry Ryan had died from drinking illegal drink, you would be writing almost exactly the same sort of proposal about drink use, bemoaning the use of this drug by well-heeled media types, and calling for more moral disapproval. That should tell you something.

      A debate can only really be worthwhile if it is rooted in statistical information, and in the thorough investigation of what creates lower-drug use in other countries.

      Personally, I don’t drink-drive because I know that driving impaired can lead to the instantaneous death of myself and others. I don’t smoke because smoking is proven to give you lung cancer and damage your health quite seriously. I don’t take cocaine because, well, I’m happy and confident enough without it.

      Prohibition and strong moral disapproval seem to the simplistic right-wing solution for everything, and I think most people in this country are, quite rightly, sick of the simplistic right-wing so-called “solutions”.

    • snow uggs says:

      I agree with Deaglán. Gerry Ryan (may he rest in peace) is clearly only the tip of the iceberg in this country with regard to cocaine usage and the over-salaried in our society. I think it would be a good idea for those partners/relatives of coke-users, who are not themselves using, to come together on a tv exposé and let people know the facts about cocaine use and what it does to an otherwise well-balanced individual. Anyone who, on a regular basis, is witnessing a partner/family member go from normal to hyper-crazy and then psychotic when the buzz is wearing off and the money is running out, should do society a favour and bring it to the attention of the relevant authorities.

    • Adam, Personally I would have no great problem with a ban on drink and ciggies, but we all live in the real world and it ain’t gonna happen. Likewise, whether legalising cocaine is a good idea or not, it ain’t gonna happen either. We have to deal with the situation as it exists and seek to minimise the damage to society that these substances cause in their different ways. The old attitude of “nowt to do with me” isn’t good enough.

    • Adam says:

      Never said it had “nowt to do with me”.

      Also, the “climate of severe disapproval” you wish for “ain’t gonna happen” either.

    • mother superior says:

      Actually Deaglan this is the third time you’ve flogged this old hobby-horse…
      I’m beginning to think you’re a bit of a train spotter….!

    • whoyagonnacalldrugbusters says:

      Since you ‘knew Gerry Ryan personally’ then of course you had the perfect opportunity to test your celebrity drug bust hypothesis…the question is did you…and if not why not?

    • @9: You again with more nasty, personalised comments under a multitude of pseudonyms. For the record, I had no idea that Mr Ryan was taking cocaine. When are you going to send a comment under your real name – if that is what I have on your email address?

    • A.Commenter says:

      Nasty personalised comments..? Not at all just testing your hopeless hypothesis…!
      If you claim to have known Mr Ryan ‘personally’ then the assumption is that you knew his personal ahem… ‘habits’…!
      So now you’re aggrandising celebrity cokeheads so much for your celebrity drug bust solution…
      When are you going to apply the same criteria to everyone who comments under pseudonym or a variety of different pseudonyms…?
      Alternatively you could reply to the other mainly negative comments instead of focusing on my blog identity…!
      Time to Get Real Tackling Drug Issues..!

    • A Commenter/Sue d’O Nym/De Profundis/Etc:

      You are essentially calling me a liar. I won’t be approving any more of your comments until you withdraw that insinuation.

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