THE decision to close RTÉ’s longwave service on January 19 is now back “under discussion” following weeks of public backlash.
A call has now also been made to three top level Ministers to intervene to save the radio service.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday Noreen Bowden, founder of Globalirish.ie, said the issue is now a matter of policy for the Irish Government.
“There is a very high level of emotion out there about this,” she said. “We are calling on Minister Jimmy Deenihan, Minister Charlie Flanagan, and Minister Alex White to intervene on this as a policy matter, and to work together with RTÉ to save this service for our Irish citizens abroad.”
She added: “It plays a pivotal role in Irish communities, particularly throughout Northern England. While there has been no formal consultation, we are getting a lot of information in the form of the thousands of petition signatures. I’ve also been discussing this with a number of individuals and groups in the UK.”
While the January 19 date for the discontinuation of the service remains in place, an RTÉ spokesperson told The Irish Post: “The decision was taken to close the service in January. However this is under discussion.”
Last week campaigners from Britain, led by Council of State member and London Councillor Sally Mulready, met with RTÉ chiefs and the Minister for Communications Alex White about the closure.
A further meeting is now scheduled for December 10, with newly-appointed chair of RTÉ, Moya Doherty, set to appear in front of the Irish Government to explain her position on the impending closure.
Ireland-based campaigner Enda O’Kane was also among those who attended the longwave lobby at the Oireachtas in Dublin on Monday.
“We are getting good support, both here in Ireland and also in Britain,” said Mr O’Kane. “From right across the spectrum, businesses, organisations, clubs, you name it.”
Father Brian D’Arcy, one of Ireland’s best-known priests, has also stressed how important the link is to Irish people living abroad.
The service was previously due to shut on October 27 as RTÉ migrated its Radio 1 service over to digital platforms. But following a major public backlash that date was pushed back to the New Year.
Senator Paschal Mooney, a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications, said: “I’m now formally calling on the newly-appointed RTÉ authority to reverse the decision.”