Tuesday 12 November 2019

If Irish public won't pay for RTÉ, it will quickly become obsolete

RTÉ boss Dee Forbes
RTÉ boss Dee Forbes
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

The hullabaloo about the gender pay gap in RTÉ follows the publication of comparable data by BBC. The 56th annual report discloses that cash-strapped RTÉ reported a deficit in 2016 of €19.7m from total revenue of €337.3m on top of a preexisting cumulative deficit of €15.1m.

The Irish public seems far less ready to support our national broadcaster than the British public is to support theirs. Some 76pc of the cost of running the BBC is financed by £3.7bn (€4.1bn) in licence fee revenue collected from 25.5 million licence holders, with relatively little incidence of non-compliance, or licence fee evasion. Some 53pc of the cost of running RTÉ is financed by €179m of licence fee revenue collected from only 75pc of the households in the State - a revenue quantum, in the case of RTÉ, that declined by over €4m since 2015.

We were persuaded that Aer Lingus, the national airline, and a plethora of other commercial State companies were not indispensable to the vitality and growth of our society. Aer Lingus was sold to a foreign buyer on the grounds that it enjoyed inadequate economies of scale to remain viable as an independent entity. Passenger traffic into and out of the State has not reduced as a consequence of its ownership by a London-based conglomerate.

Has the time not come for a fundamental public debate about whether we really need a State-funded national broadcasting service, or should RTÉ be sold to the highest bidder on the global market with a promise of higher quality programmes of local interest?

If the Irish public is unwilling to adequately support RTÉ through a combination of public revenue, advertising revenue and commercial revenue, the writing is on the wall.

RTÉ will become defined by increasing mediocrity, a loss of confidence, and irrelevance.

It will perish on the vine of obsolescence, like the canal barge companies of the 19th century and Dún Laoghaire harbour.

Myles Duffy

Glenageary, Co Dublin


Justice now for 'poor' Sharon

Gosh, it's dreadful that Bryan Dobson is paid up to €80,000 more than Sharon Ní Bheoláin. Is she only being paid the minimum wage, or the living wage, or the average industrial wage, or - dare I say it - in excess of a combination of all three?

I see a review is to take place on this matter to see what can be done for the unfortunate Sharon. What are the odds of this review recommending Sharon's wage being increased to the same level as Bryan (gender equality and Bryan's contract, you know how these things work)? So is this the reason RTÉ needs an increase in the licence fee? What is happening to the proceeds of the sale of lands at Montrose? Should this not be going to the Exchequer? Also, this sale being aided by a State-supported bank.

A great little country, aren't we?

Tom Kelly

Merganstown, West Wicklow


Populist politics, Irish-style

Politicians and political journalists around the globe are writing day and night about the dangers of so-called "populist politics". In the Republic of Ireland, it has been about "new politics" and the great benefits it would (supposedly) bring.

What has every general election in Ireland been about other than populism? Draining the Shannon, abolition of domestic rates, abolition of private vehicle road tax, free travel, free education, medical cards for rich and poor, etc. The sole difference between the Republic and other nations is that, while many of these populist promises were reversed, the services to the public were never returned to their original state. As Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is supposedly cut from different cloth, will he inveigle the Dáil to act in the national interest, and lead by example, by putting responsibility and accountability to the forefront?

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia


Documentary was spine-chilling

Congratulations to RTÉ radio for the very informative documentary 'Polar Opposites'.

The programme dealt with the subject of abortion in Iceland. The programme was quite balanced, but nevertheless spine-chilling in many ways. One of the most alarming contributions was from a feminist lecturer who stated that the unborn had no entitlements while in the womb, abortion was legitimate right up to birth. As we know from the experience in the US and UK, so-called restrictive abortion regimes never work out that way. Abortion on demand inevitably becomes the norm.

We are lucky in Ireland that we can learn from the tragic experiences of these other countries. How wise our parents were to insert the Eighth Amendment into our Constitution, so that we have been spared, so far, the horrors of the abortion regimes so graphically described in the RTÉ documentary.

Eric Conway



Uncertainty of climate change

When discussing climate change, a common remark in Ireland is that we could do with a bit of global warming here. Be careful what you wish for.

The Greenland ice cap is melting at an unprecedented rate. In the past, a sudden influx of cold water into the north Atlantic from the melting of a massive ice dam in the Great Lakes area of north America stopped the Gulf Stream dead, plunging northern Europe into a mini ice age. Could this feed of cold water from Greenland do the same?

Given that we are at the same latitude as Hudson Bay in Canada, which freezes solid in winter, any temperature increase from global warming would be counteracted within a short time.

This drop in temperature would be as devastating as the projected global temperature increase. It points to the uncertainty that is climate change, rather than the certainty of overall global warming.

David Taylor

Ennis, Co Clare


Double standard on Poland

I was perplexed when the European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans insisted that Poland should be stripped of EU voting rights because the proposed judicial reforms there would "put the judiciary under full political control of the government".

His claim was followed by the statement made by the Association of Judges of Ireland, expressing their belief that judicial independence in Poland had been undermined.

The judges of the Supreme Court are under full political control in Germany (where the federal minister can veto any candidate), Denmark (judges are nominated by the Council whose members are nominated by the minister for justice), Sweden, Austria and Mr Timmermans's native Netherlands (by the minister for justice).

Should these countries also be stripped of their EU voting rights?

Grzegorz Kolodziej

Bray, Co Wicklow.

Irish Independent

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