No immediate plans to reopen London office, says RTE

No immediate plans to reopen London office, says RTE

RUMOURS that RTE’s London office will reopen are unfounded but a British base is part of future plans according to the broadcaster.

Speculated that the Irish broadcaster would return to London came about earlier this week after the closed London bureau was the subject of discussion in the Oireachtas. This, combined with next week’s decamping of journalists from Montrose to cover the State visit of President Higgins, set tongues wagging.

But speaking to The Irish Post, Laura Fitzgerald from RTE’s Communications Department said: “The office remains under review. It is still a financial issue but Kevin Bakhurst (Head of News) has gone on the record several times to say it is in his plans for the future. He has said that repeatedly.”

The closure of the office was a point of contention when RTE’s plans for the bureau were revealed in March 2012.

The bureau has been closed since 2012 and was part of a €25m cost-cutting plan.

Through that period, The Irish Post ran a campaign to highlight the closure and the need to have a ‘state’ journalistic presence on the ground in Britain to act as a watchdog for British Irish affairs.

The closure led to an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons while a group of MPs wrote a letter to RTE management challenging the decision.

In a letter to the station’s director general Noel Curran, Chris Ruane, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Irish in Britain wrote: “Now more than ever you must take into account the views of the global Irish Diaspora.

“The measured coverage of RTE broadcast from London made a major contribution to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

"More recently as we recall the ground breaking visit to Ireland of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, RTE has brought to life the ever closer relationship between Britain and Ireland and the people of our respective islands.”

The campaign also received the backing of then London mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone.