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RTE sending wrong signal with closure of its London office

I briefly exchanged pleasantries with the RTE London editor Brian O'Connell last week at the Irish Embassy before finding out minutes later that his bosses in Montrose had decided to close their office here.

At first I assumed the physical office was being axed but it transpires the entire operation is to be the victim of drastic cost-cutting.

While it's clear RTE has to make substantial savings in terms of running, it appears the height of short-sightedness to close down a bureau that has consistently served viewers well over the decades.

Evan a scaled-back bureau in London would make more sense than none at all.

This summer the station will send a sizeable delegation, rumoured to number 40, to the Olympic Games and after they return to Dublin the London office will officially close.

At a time when Irish and British government ministers are criss-crossing the Irish Sea with unprecedented frequency, it's hard to understand the thinking behind the complete closure of the office here.

Undoubtedly the impact to the listening and viewing public at home will be immense.

Since 1989, Mr O'Connell has informed the country from London during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the rise of Tony Blair and Labour in the 1990s and more recently reported on last summer's riots.

He and his colleagues, at their Millbank base in Westminster, continue to break stories of Irish interest in Britain and offer an Irish perspective on major events which originate on this side of the Irish Sea.

Cuts are justified but not to the vital pillars of RTE's news and current affairs department.

Irish Independent