The Raids of 1983 Part 4



In the very early hours of Thursday, May 19th, Radio Nova returned to the airwaves. Utilising a borrowed transmitter donated by Joe Jackson, formerly of Sonic Independent Radio, the station was on much lower power than listeners had previously been used to.

Meanwhile, over in that portakabin in Portmarnock, the morning of May 19th started just like any other. Everyone at the station was looking forward to their annual fundraiser in aid of the CRC, which was due to happen that upcoming weekend.

The sense of foreboding, however, will have hung heavily in the air, not helped by the morning’s newspapers.

Today’s Front Pages

Radio Nova ready to go back on air - Nealon to silence the pirates
Irish Press front page
Pirate stations face crackdown - the raid on Radio Nova
Irish Independent front page

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Irish Press

Radio Nova ready to go back on air - Nealon to silence the pirates
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Raid on Radio Nova - pirates to resist the clampdown
Radio Nova raid - Nova seeking to challenge validity of broadcast law
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Radio Nova raid 1983 - Ruling the airwaves

Irish Times

Government may close down more pirate stations following raid on Radio Nova
High Court to hear Radio Nova appeal to resume broadcasting

Irish Independent

Radio Nova raid May 1983 - pirate stations face crackdown
Radio Nova raid
Ripples on the airwaves as Radio Nova shuts down
Raid in Radio Nova May 1983

Cork Examiner

Radio Nova fight closure

Belfast Telegraph

Eire clamps down on the Dublin radio pirates


Robbie Robinson had agonised overnight over whether to keep Sunshine Radio on the air or to stop broadcasting, thus saving the station’s very expensive equipment from being confiscated. Even though the Minister was making lots of noise about further raids, the general feeling within the radio community was that the raid on Radio Nova was as a result of them themselves, rather than their illegality in itself.

After all, Chris Cary had never been shy about future plans and it was felt that his latest project – to place a 50kw transmitter on the air to beam into Britain – might have been a step too far for the authorities, especially as he was openly talking about it to the media.

That 50kw transmitter formed part of the massive haul taken from Nova Park the day before.

On the borrowed transmitter Declan and Bob were back on air.

The Newspaper Review on Nova was going to be particularly interesting this morning…

Pirate stations face crackdown - Radio Nova and Kiss FM raided
Radio Nova and Kiss FM raided - government may close down more pirate stations
Radio Nova and Kiss FM raided

A recording of Radio Nova’s full day of broadcast is available to listen to in our Radio Retro section.


Back at Sunshine Radio David Lyons was on the air with his breakfast show. At 9am he handed over to the news team and Robbie Dale started his show straight after.

All seemed fine until Robbie broke into a record at 9.17am…

A lengthy recording of David Lyons’s show and the full recording of Robbie Dale’s Show can be heard in our Radio Retro section.

Taking Sunshine Apart

Sunshine Radio transmitter being dismantled following raid on the station
Post and Telegraphs remove transmitter following raid on Sunshine Radio
Cathy Cregan offers tea to Gardaí as  Sunshine Radio is raided
Left: The P&T dismantle a transmitter
Top: Removing equipment
Above: Cathy Cregan offers tea

Photos above and below by courtesy of Anoraks UK, Gary Hogg and Evening Press

News had reached the lads at Radio Nova. This was Declan within moments of Sunshine leaving the air…

Raid on Sunshine Radio - May 1983
Sunshine Radio staff during raid on the station

The scenes outside the portakabins at the Sands Hotel as the P&T work away

Radio Nova News at 10


The raid on Sunshine Radio which removed around £45,000 worth of equipment, instantly put over 40 people on the dole.

Robbie Robinson looks on as his radio station is dismantled
Robbie Robinson looks on as his radio station is dismantled

Robbie Robinson commended the Gardaí and P&T officials for their politeness and accepted that they were just doing their job, a job it seemed to him that they were unhappy about having to do. He didn’t see them as the problem; he had already vented his anger at the people who deserved it live on air minutes earlier.

Some of the station’s listeners were not so diplomatic, however. As they started to gather outside the studios, abuse was shouted at the workmen and scuffles threatened to break out. It was Robinson himself who managed to calm the situation.

Robbie had always stated his intention to comply with any legislative procedures that may be introduced as part of a process to get licensed independent stations onto the Irish airwaves. Government Ministers seemed to indicate that fair warning would be given to allow stations to wind down. No wonder he felt betrayed.

So how did the rest of the nation’s stations react?