Gerry Ryan

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Gerry Ryan : biography

4 June 1956 – 30 April 2010

Earnings

Ryan earned €487,492 from RTÉ in 2004, making him the second highest paid presenter to colleague Pat Kenny. He earned €462,442 in 2003, and €601,882 in 2002. (2002 and 2003 salaries). RTÉ offered Ryan a new five-year contract worth €600,000 a year in July 2007. Ryan said that just before this he came very close to signing a deal with Denis O’Brien to present a daytime programme on Newstalk which was about to go national. He was offered several millions more than RTÉ were offering him. Ryan considered the deal, thinking of how one of his best friends Willie O’Reilly was head of sister station Today FM and was heavily involved with the other stations. However negotiations fell apart as Ryan cautioned on how delicate the situation was, with RTÉ looking at his contract and deciding if he was of value to them any more. O’Brien allegedly disappeared and Ryan was told he was out of coverage. The irony was not lost on him – "pretty incredible for a guy who owns most of the world’s mobile telephones". O’Brien did eventually return but Ryan had already signed the RTÉ contract.

In February 2009 Ryan refused to take a 10% pay cut from RTÉ, even as several other employees in RTÉ took such pay cuts, and declared it "bullshit". On 10 March 2009 he gave a lengthy speech on his radio show, at the end of which he declared he would agree to break his existing contract with RTÉ, and take a pay cut. He was not technically a member of RTÉ staff but was paid through a separate company, enabling Ryan and RTÉ to avoid paying as much tax on his salary.

Death

Ryan spoke of feeling ill on the night of 29 April 2010 and cancelled several appointments on that night. He was found dead in the bedroom of his Leeson Street, Dublin apartment by his partner on the following afternoon.

Ryan’s family issued the following statement to the public: "Gerry Ryan died today. Morah and his children are in complete shock. Please respect their privacy."

President Mary McAleese and many political figures issued regrets at Ryan’s death. Fellow RTÉ broadcasters Gay Byrne, Pat Kenny, Larry Gogan, Joe Duffy, Dave Fanning and Ryan Tubridy also expressed their regrets. Chris Evans of BBC Radio 2 also paid tribute. RTÉ Radio 1 cut short their afternoon show for a special tribute programme on Drivetime. Bono also expressed his sympathy.

Director-General of RTÉ Cathal Goan, Managing Director of RTÉ Radio, Clare Duignan and RTÉ Chairperson Tom Savage all released statements on RTÉ.ie. Marian Finucane spoke of meeting him on the Tuesday before his death, considering him to be stressed.

Fans also added their condolences to a memorial website set up in his memory. RTÉ colleagues discussed his life on The Late Late Show. A two-hour radio programme presented by Evelyn O’Rourke was broadcast on RTÉ 2fm on 1 May 2010. A book of condolence was opened in the RTÉ Radio Centre, in Donnybrook, Dublin.

Following the announcement of the findings into Ryan’s death and its relationship with cocaine consumption at the inquest on 10 December 2010, the broadcaster was involved in further controversy due to his outspoken views against drug use. Details of Ryan’s cocaine habit reversed the sympathetic outpourings of the public at the time of his death. Newspaper columnist Kevin Myers stated, "He was also a criminal fool and an enemy of all that’s decent and honourable and true in society".