Friday 24 November 2017

RTE reveals new scheme to promote Irish language

Blathnaid Treacy; broadcaster RTÉ; Blathnaid Ní Chofaigh; broadcaster RTÉ and Eoghan McDermott; broadcaster RTÉ. Picture: Tony Kinlan/Kinlan Photography
Blathnaid Treacy; broadcaster RTÉ; Blathnaid Ní Chofaigh; broadcaster RTÉ and Eoghan McDermott; broadcaster RTÉ. Picture: Tony Kinlan/Kinlan Photography

Jane O'Faherty

Bilingual All-Ireland commentaries and a new Irish-language radio service for young people could take to the airwaves as part of a new RTÉ scheme for promoting Irish.

The national broadcaster’s Irish Language Action Plan was launched on Monday and features 93 recommendations to increase its Irish output.

It is hoped that the proposals, which include bilingual bulletins on 2FM and Irish options on RTÉ Player, will be implemented over the next five years.

As part of the plan, viewers will be able to access Irish-language commentaries for this year’s All-Ireland matches by choosing the Irish language option on their Saorview or Sky set top boxes. It is the first time that GAA fans will be able to do so.

Rónán Mac Con Iomaire, RTÉ’s Group Head Irish Language, said that the action plan was a work in progress at present. However, he said that he envisaged there would be five bilingual bulletins on 2FM between the hours of 7am and 7pm.

The engagement with young people will continue with the launch of an Irish-language youth radio station, which could start broadcasting in the next four to five years.

Mr Mac Con Iomaire told the Irish Independent that the radio service could be run in conjunction with Raidio na Gaeltachta and 2FM. He added it could be either an FM or digital service, depending on which medium would be used more commonly at that point.

He added that he was confident that young people would support an increase in Irish language services when introduced.

“There is an acceptance and I think young people see the language as what it is – a language without anything else built around it,” he said.

“This year 2FM engaged with Seachtain na Gaeilge and all the feedback was extremely positive,” he added.

“It’s not something we’re doing because we have to do it. We’re doing it because we want to make great TV and great radio.”

Other suggestions in the action plan include a new version of the RTÉ Player that will include an Irish-language option, educational content for language learners and increased use of Irish in television promos, continuity and weather bulletins.

Advertisers will also be encouraged to provide more Irish-language content for television, radio and digital platforms.

The recommendations formed part of a 2013 report compiled by a special working group, and sets targets until 2019. 

RTÉ Director General Noel Curran said that the proposals were not seen as an obligation but as an opportunity for the broadcaster’s radio and television stations.

“In appointing Rónán Mac Con Iomaire, we signalled our intent that the Irish language not simply be viewed in terms of an obligation, but rather that it be seen as an opportunity, to better define what it is that makes RTÉ unique, to better reflect life in Ireland, to understand our linguistic heritage, our culture, and indeed our individual character as a people and a society in an increasingly homogenised world,” he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who was a guest of honour at the launch, welcomed the action plan and said it was important that RTÉ normalised the use of Irish and gave greater focus to the language.

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