BBC to cut Northern Ireland jobs and end Radio Foyle's Breakfast programme

BBC to cut Northern Ireland jobs and end Radio Foyle's Breakfast programme

BBC NORTHERN Ireland has announced plans to cut up to 40 jobs as part of a drive to save money and invest in online services.

The changes, announced to staff this morning, will see the end of BBC Radio Foyle's Breakfast programme and the Inside Business programme on Radio Ulster.

The BBC hopes the the majority of the losses will come through voluntary redundancies.

Two of Radio Foyle's daytime programmes - Sean Coyle's morning show and Mark Patterson's afternoon programme - will continue, along with a daily 30 minute news programme.

Assistant general secretary of the National Union of Journalists Séamus said in a statement today that the decision to end the breakfast show and the regional news bulletins is "a betrayal of the people of Northern Ireland."

“Radio Foyle is part of the cultural landscape of the North West with a wide listenership on both sides of the border," he said.

"The diminution of services in Radio Foyle is of particular concern and will be strongly resisted by the NUJ. We call on political parties, community groups, trade unions and listeners to join us in opposing this move."

He said the BBC "should go back to the drawing board and achieve savings in some other fashion."

"This is a wrong-headed plan at a time when Northern Ireland needs a diversity of news coverage. BBC Radio Foyle is vital to the life of Derry, a vibrant city with a tremendous heart and a resilient spirit.

"Local news for local communities is not something which should be discarded in this fashion.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood described the attempt to close BBC Radio Foyle as an action of "stealth" which cannot be allowed to proceed.

Mr Eastwood said the station provides an important service for people in the north west and that its long-term future must be protected.

“This decision by the BBC top brass is nothing more than a shameful attempt to begin to shutdown BBC Radio Foyle by stealth.

"It’s gutting our local station to the point that it will be unsustainable. My thoughts are with all of those who are affected by today’s announcements and now face an uncertain future at what is already a very difficult time.

"Radio Foyle has been broadcasting to people in this area for over 40 years and we have seen numerous attempts to reduce its services and staff. That the station is still such an integral part of life for people in the north west is a tribute to the efforts of all the staff.

"During previous attempts to make cuts at Radio Foyle we have seen a groundswell of public support and we need to do everything possible to make the BBC aware of how important this station is to this community and to force them to reconsider these decisions.