Dublin Senator, Catherine Noone, is calling on the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White TD, to urge RTÉ to postpone the closure of their Longwave service beyond January 2015 until a viable alternative is available.
“I was dismayed to hear of the looming closure of RTÉ’s Longwave service, which is the last remaining broadcast radio service still available to the Irish in the UK.
“This move will adversely affect people in certain rural areas here and the Irish diaspora in the UK, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, who will have a vital link with home permanently severed.
“RTÉ has been broadcasting Radio 1 to Britain since 1932. Many of the Irish emigrants use it to listen to GAA matches from home, and for some it is their last connection with Ireland.
“Although listeners in the UK can tune into the station on the internet or satellite, these will be inaccessible for many. RTÉ’s digital radio alternative, DAB, has no reach in either Britain or Northern Ireland.
“The Irish community in Britain number over 400,000 first-generation Irish alone. This is not including the generation of emigrants who sent home millions to their families back in Ireland in the 1950’s and 60’s and who, as a harrowing documentary recently revealed, experience high levels of poverty and isolation.
“The shutdown of medium wave and now Longwave is severing a vital connection to home for these people. Estimates suggest it would cost around €250,000 per year to keep the transmitter going until digital forms of broadcasting become a viable alternative for elderly citizens in rural areas and in the UK.
“As such I am now calling the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White to urge RTÉ to postpone the closure of their Longwave service until there are better options that will make RTÉ radio accessible to all the Irish in Britain.”