Irish elderly abroad in backlash at RTE longwave decision
An elderly Irishman living in the UK is afraid of losing his only connection to home if RTE cancel their longwave radio service.
James Moriarty (85), from Dingle in Co Kerry, resides in a self-contained sheltered flat with the Inisfree Housing Association in London.
RTE plans to end the service, which is broadcast on longwave (LW) 252, in mid-January, but the decision has received a backlash from Irish people living abroad, particularly the elderly.
Campaigners to retain the service this week met with Communications Minister Alex White. They explained how vital it is to Irish people living abroad like James Moriarty.
"It's great company when you're living on your own. I would be lost without it," Mr Moriarty explained. "I would be lost without the RTE radio. It's on all the time when I'm in.
"It would be a big change if it was lost. It's great company when you're living on your own.
"It's great to get news from home heard on the radio. I listen to Kerry radio and Raidio na Gaeltachta [when at home] but here in London, the RTE LW service is a lifeline to me and many other single, older Irish people who keep in touch with home," Mr Moriarty.
RTE plans to migrate its Radio One service to digital platforms for those abroad.
The national broadcaster cites financial strain and low listenership as the reasons for cutting off the LW service.
A petition was started by the Irish diaspora abroad who felt that RTE were not listening to their concerns, and has so far received 2,000 signatures.
Enda O'Kane, a volunteer with Irish Overseas Broadcasting Research and a former RTE technician, believes the service must be retained.
"The campaign to save the service is only getting into gear. "We're distributing thousands of leaflets in the coming days, and we're using social media to highlight the situation," he said.
"RTE didn't expect such opposition, we even had Sally Mulready, a councillor from Hackney in the UK over in Ireland lobbying members from the broadcaster," Mr O'Kane added.
The group have a website set up at www.savertelongwaveradio.com
A delegation consisting of Irish emigrants met with Communications Minister Alex White to discuss the issue during the week.
Mr White told the Herald that he hopes RTE “will do all it can to address their concerns.”
He said that the government was not consulted on RTE’s decision to end the service but pointed out that there is no requirement for the broadcaster to do so. He says his department was briefed on the matter.
“I am assured that RTÉ has been working with our Embassy in London to ensure that its audience in Britain is well prepared for the closure and aware of all options to continue enjoying Radio One,” he said.