Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith TD has called on the Minister for Communications and the Minister for the Diaspora to intervene to prevent RTÉ from withdrawing its Longwave 252 kHZ service next year. The broadcaster has been forced to delay the closure of the service until January next year after a public and political backlash.
Deputy Smith commented, “The decision by RTÉ to shut the Longwave service is shortsighted and will affect thousands of people across the country as well as Irish emigrants who live in the UK. The Longwave service acts as a link to home, so that they can keep up to date with news, current affairs and sporting events at home. Older people will be disproportionately affected, as many have difficulty adapting to modern technology and this will be the only option left open to them if the planned closure goes ahead.
“The Government announced a Minster for the Diaspora with great fanfare earlier this year, however, when it comes to ensuring that a vital service which is used by thousands of Irish in Northern Ireland and the UK is maintained, Minister Deenihan is nowhere to be seen. Similarly, Communications Minister Alex White has tried to wash his hands of the controversy, claiming he has no role to play in the day-to-day operations of RTÉ.
“Despite numerous attempts to raise this issue in the Dáil, my requests have been disallowed. I welcome the fact that RTÉ has granted a reprieve for the service, as many people were unaware of plans to discontinue it. However, the broadcaster needs to go further and guarantee the viability of the service into the future. It is an extremely important resource for older people, which cannot be easily replaced.
“Ministers White and Deenihan must work together to ensure this essential service is maintained. If the Government is serious about prioritising the diaspora, it can demonstrate its commitment by intervening to secure the future of the Longwave service. It is an issue that I am committed to pursuing and will be raising with the Ministers concerned.”