RTE in storm over cuts to 'Irish' Mass
RTE boss Cathal Goan has experienced a series of high-level political rebukes after its Irish-speaking station Radio na Gaeltachta decided to cut its Sunday Mass broadcast to just once a month.
Minister for the Gaeltacht Eamon O Cuiv has contacted the station's director-general Cathal Goan to "remind him of the station's responsibilities to minorities under the 2007 Broadcasting Act''.
Senator Donie Cassidy has described the cutback on Sunday Mass as "a new low in Irish broadcasting".
"Surely this radio station can devote one of its 168 broadcast hours a week to something that is of such importance to our elderly people who have worked hard to secure the freedom of this country and should, if sick, be entitled to this small comfort,'' said Mr Cassidy.
The cutbacks have affected the secular as well as the religious sphere for Radio na Gaeltachta. The station is now unable to cover key GAA sporting fixtures involving counties such as Kerry, Galway and Donegal, with large Irish-speaking populations.
However, it is the loss of the religious services that has provoked the most serious backlash.
Sources within RTE have revealed that one of the key problems is that "the church refuses to pre-record editions of the Sunday Mass which could be produced in bulk''.
However, a Catholic Church spokesperson told the Sunday Independent that this fails to recognise that "for a Mass to be meaningful in terms of participation for individuals the simultaneous nature of the event is relevant. Sure, otherwise all they would have to do is repeat the same Mass every week''.