A Garda investigation into allegations of a cover-up of the activities of well-known people who take drugs is to be launched.

The allegations were made in today's Sunday Independent, which said corrupt gardaí had protected rich and public figures with drug habits, including broadcaster, Gerry Ryan.

A Garda statement this evening said serious allegations were made about members of the Garda, based on anonymous sources and without any apparent grounding in fact.

Because what was described as the gravity and prominence of the allegations Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has ordered an investigation into them.

RTÉ tonight issued a statement relating to the allegations and rejected any suggestion of tolerance of drug abuse among its workforce or at its premises.

The statement added that RTÉ's own security checks indicate that there is no unusual activity at the RTÉ workplace in respect of drug abuse.

The state broadcaster has also defended its coverage of the inquest of Gerry Ryan.

RTÉ denied it had maintained a silence after it was revealed that Mr Ryan had used cocaine, saying the issue was appropriately carried in news programming.

The organisation refrained from offering any further comment out of respect for Gerry Ryan and out of sympathy for his family.

Meanwhile, Sunday Independent reporter Jim Cusack said neither he nor the newspaper will be making any comment at this stage in relation to a Garda statement that they will be investigating allegations reported in their newspaper today regarding the alleged garda protection of well known public figures with drug habits.