R na G criticised for ending news show
Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent
Fine Gael and Labour TDs in Galway have expressed concern over Raidió na Gaeltachta’s decision to drop a key current affairs programme from its schedule four months before the general election.
Fine Gael TD for Galway West Pádraic McCormack has questioned whether there was a “political” reason for the decision to drop Cúrsaí an Lae, as he was aware that a complaint about the programme had been sent to the radio station last year by Fianna Fáil MEP Seán Ó Neachtain.
The final programme in the series was broadcast last Friday.
Mr Ó Neachtain wrote to Raidió na Gaeltachta’s ceannaire, Edel Ní Chuireáin, on October 31st last on European Parliament notepaper in relation to the programme’s coverage of a controversy over a proposed childcare facility at Coláiste Chonnacht in Spiddal, Co Galway.
Mr Ó Neachtain is a trustee of the campus of Coláiste Chonnacht, which hosts Irish-language summer colleges.
Mr McCormack and fellow Galway West TD Michael D. Higgins (Lab) have criticised Mr Ó Neachtain’s use of headed notepaper for a complaint about a personal matter. Mr Higgins said that Mr Ó Neachtain could have made his complaint through the normal channels via the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.
Mr McCormack said it was “very regrettable” that a programme with the second-highest listenership on Raidió na Gaeltachta should be taken off the air in the run-up to the election.
Seán Ó Coistealbha, chairman of Comhairle Pobail an Spidéil (Spiddal Community Council), also criticised the use of official stationery by the MEP.
Mr Ó Neachtain defended the use of European Parliament notepaper. He told The Irish Times that he was referred to as an MEP on the programme in question, and wrote in on this basis to the station.
A spokeswoman for Raidió na Gaeltachta said that there was no connection between the programme change and Mr Ó Neachtain’s complaint. The editorial decision relating to Cúrsaí an Lae and two other Raidió na Gaeltachta programmes dated back to February 2006, following a detailed resource analysis.
A decision on all three programmes was taken in July 2006 and staff had been informed last November. Six new programmes had been announced last month, she said.
The spokeswoman also defended Raidió na Gaeltachta’s decision to inform all staff journalists that they must not contribute to other media and publications before the general election. This was to ensure impartial coverage, she said.
The decision has been criticised by the Irish-language newspaper, Lá, which said it is lodging a complaint with the Competition Authority. The newspaper has questioned why the same directive does not apply to journalists working for RTÉ.
© The Irish Times