Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith TD has welcomed the decision by RTÉ to extend their Longwave radio service until 2017 and is urging Minister Charlie Flanagan to progress research on maintaining a service on a more long term basis without delay.
Deputy Smith commented, “The RTE Longwave frequency provides an essential link to home for Irish people living in the UK. Hundreds of people in the North are also reliant on the service and would be adversely affected by any attempts to force its closure. My office was inundated with calls from people who were outraged that the State broadcaster was planning to sever this important tie with home. The service is particularly important to older people, as many of them have not adapted to digital technology and prefer to rely on the Longwave service.
“Thousands of Irish emigrants tune into the service to keep in touch with news, current affairs and sports events, and for many it is their last connection to their local community. This is an issue that I have been pursuing through the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs committee and raised during Order of Business in the Dáil only yesterday. While the extension of the service to 2017 is welcome, all efforts must be made to secure its viability into the future.
“Ministers Charlie Flanagan, Alex White and Jimmy Deenihan must work with RTE to devise a strategy to ensure that the Irish abroad are not cut off from their national news, sport and current affairs service. The research that Minister Flanagan has committed to must be carried out in a timely manner so that Irish emigrants living in the UK are catered for properly and that the uncertainty surrounding the situation is removed without delay”.