RTÉ Radio delegation discuss longwave backlash with Irish in Britain

By James Martin, The Irish Post. on October 22, 2014

jim jennings-n

RTÉ Radio chiefs have met with the Irish in Britain organisation to discuss the impact the loss of its longwave service will have on the community.

A delegation arrived in London on Monday after the national broadcaster admitted more time was needed to consult with groups and individuals who listen in from here. Irish in Britain, whose petition to save the service has topped over 750 signatures, said the closure was “not just about numbers” but “the significant loss of a touch point between the older Irish living here and at home.”

“We are delighted that RTÉ responded to our call to postpone the longwave closure until a proper impact assessment is undertaken,” IIB CEO Jennie McShannon added. “We hope they will hear what we and others have to say before taking an irreversible step which will cut loose the links for so many Irish people here in Britain.”

The Radio 1 service was due to gooff air on October 27 but RTÉ has now postponed that closure until January 19 after listeners voiced their objections to the move.

A spokesperson, however, said the closure would go ahead in the New Year.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brendan Smith welcomed RTÉ’s reprieve but added: “The broadcaster needs to go further and guarantee the viability of the service into the future.” Mr Smith called on Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan and Ireland’s Minister for Communications Alex White to intervene to stop RTÉ pulling the service.

Speaking to The Irish Post in London Mr Deenihan came out in defence of the service. “I don’t think RTÉ were aware of the importance of the availability of longwave to the Irish Diaspora here,” he said. “Most people I’m speaking to, especially the elderly population, it’s their way of keeping in touch with Ireland.”

Last week RTÉ Radio Managing Director Jim Jennings,  addressed a Joint Committee on Transport and Communications on the closure of the RTÉ Radio 1 longwave service.