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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Seanad's Gaza debate stalls work on TV camera system

Fionnan Sheahan Group Political Editor

Published 31/07/2014 | 02:30

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Charlie Flanagan
Charlie Flanagan

Workon a new €450,000 TV camera system in Leinster House will be stalled today when the Seanad meets to debate the Gaza crisis.

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Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan will be present in the Upper House to defend the Government's record in the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

The debate this afternoon is expected to focus, in particular, on the Government's failure to support a UN committee vote for an international inquiry into the Israeli military action.

The Seanad recall from its summer break will be the last time the old camera system is used to broadcast proceedings.

Specialists from the US are due to come to Dublin later this month to install the new system in the Seanad and committee rooms.

The Oireachtas says the existing cameras are old and out of date. A new system is also needed to allow the Seanad and committees to be broadcast in High Definition (HD).

Work began this week on the removal of the old system, with Office of Public Works staff starting to remove old cabling. But the preparatory work will not prevent the Seanad from sitting in its normal Chamber on the first floor of Leinster House today.

The existing camera system dates back to before the year 2000 and the normal lifespan of the equipment is usually seven to 10 years.

The Oireachtas Broadcasting Unit equipment is unable to televise proceedings in HD, which is now the accepted standard for TV stations.

The camera replacement project in the Seanad, four committee rooms and a meeting room in Leinster House will cost €445,000. It will involve the installation of 26 new cameras by the company from the US, which specialises in parliamentary broadcasting systems.

The contract was awarded to the American company after being put out to international tender.

The Houses of the Oireachtas said the sitting will not interfere with the timescale for getting the work done.

"It's not causing any kind of problem to the project," the spokesman said.

The camera replacement is separate to the launch of a dedicated Oireachtas TV Channel in September, to coincide with the return of the Dail.

The channel will bring all of the business of the Oireachtas – Dail, Seanad and Committees – to households with UPC, Sky and Eircom.

All of the public sittings of the Banking Inquiry will be carried on Oireachtas TV.

The channel production and presentation will cost around €200,000 a year. The distribution will cost €250,000, which the Oireachtas says is a discounted fee for access to Sky.

Irish Independent

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