THE Garda Ombudsman Commission has said it is considering allegations that corrupt gardaí protected public figures with drug habits, such as Gerry Ryan.
The Garda Commissioner has already ordered an investigation into the allegations which were made in the Sunday Independent newspaper. The newspaper claimed there was a drug dealer to high-profile Irish celebrities who was protected by corrupt gardaí.
It is believed the mention of garda corruption triggered the seriousness of the response from Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy, particularly following the damage the force suffered in relation to Garda corruption in Donegal.
It is understood that Detective Chief Superintendent John McMahon, who heads up serious crime at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, is to take charge of the probe.
Det McMahon also led the investigation into the leaking of letters which led to the resignation of junior minister Trevor Sargent.
Gardaí are likely to seek to interview Sunday Independent editor Aengus Fanning and Jim Cusack, the journalist who wrote the piece, to offer them the chance to provide any evidence it may have supporting the allegations of garda corruption.
RTÉ has strongly denied allegations of a tolerance of drug abuse among its staff and on its premises. It pointed out that the station’s own security checks indicated there is no unusual activity at RTÉ in respect of drug abuse.
Head of RTÉ corporate affairs, Kevin Dawson, acknowledged that comment on the issue in its programmes could have been greater, but an effort was made not to delve into Gerry Ryan’s life circumstances.
“I think we were right to draw a line. I think we perhaps drew it in the wrong place and I think that last night’s statement, in addition to principally making some points about RTÉ’s drug policy and our view and lack of tolerance about drug abuse here, did acknowledge that the coverage could have been greater,” he said.
In a statement to the Irish Examiner, editor of the Sunday Independent Aengus Fanning welcomed the announcement of the Garda investigation into the issue.
“Jim Cusack’s report in the Sunday Independent was based on extensive inquiries made to a significant number of gardaí in the 10-day period since the Gerry Ryan inquest.
“The Sunday Independent welcomes the Garda investigation into the issues raised and will co-operate fully with it,” he said.
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