Letters: Axeing RTÉ Radio 1 on longwave is a kick in teeth for people who kept us afloat

RTÉ Radio on longwave (LW) was a last link with home for the diaspora© Getty Images

Letters to the Editor

Sir — The campaigner Enda O’Kane is a man fighting a lonely battle to keep longwave radio broadcasting to Irish people in Britain.

I do not know in what time your readers were born and grew up, or if they have any knowledge of the contribution of Irish workers who went to post-war Britain — not just for work, but for survival.

In the late 1940s and 1950s, poverty abounded to such an extent in this country that people under a certain age couldn’t even begin to imagine it. Tuberculosis was widespread, caused in part by poor diet, poor lifestyles and general poverty. In that atmosphere, young adults from all over Ireland took the boat to England.

There was work there aplenty, but it was not at that time a land of welcomes.

Accommodation was hard to find if you were Irish, but they needed the workers to rebuild a country ravaged by war.

A significant part of Irish earnings was returned home each week to support families. The afternoon post was mainly made up of the English letters awaited by hopeful families.

The Irish economy was that of a very poor nation and was based almost entirely on an underdeveloped agricultural sector.

For where else was it to go and expand in that post-war climate?

The remittances sent home by those emigrants, women and men, was a lifeline of survival that can never be underestimated.

It is reckoned that in today’s values the monies returned home by Irish workers in Britain would be worth more than €100bn. Ask yourself how we could have survived without that.

There are a million of those Irish living in Britain today, made up of many of the original emigrants now in old age, or their descendants who never got to grow up at home.

In their Irish clubs they have maintained the cultures of music and dance they grew up with, passing on their love of home and all that is Irish.

But now their last link with home — RTÉ longwave radio — has been taken from them, with the agreement and approval of the ministers for foreign affairs and of media and culture.

These two people come from a different place and have not one iota of understanding of the depth of hurt this withdrawal will cause the Irish in Britain, to whom this country owes so much.

All for a saving of €250,000 — the equivalent of the salary of a well-paid presenter at RTÉ.

All appeals have been coldly dismissed.

Where have we come to in this country that we allow our valued emigrant Irish to be treated in this way?

I appeal to you, on their behalf and out of basic decency, to print this appeal to the people of Ireland to have this action reversed.

Harry Mulhern, Ayrfield, Dublin 13

Fans failed by GAA and RTÉ’s cosy cartel

Sir — You don’t know me. I have played GAA all my life, given time to administration and fundraising, served my club in football and hurling coaching, selecting and managing teams — countless hours over the years.

You don’t know me, but I am the grassroots of the GAA, and those in the suits in Croke Park don’t understand me.

I was lucky to see a great game of hurling last Saturday between Cork and Tipperary, but the sad thing about it was that those who couldn’t attend had to pay to view — people like me, who gave their time free, whether playing, fundraising or cutting the grass. Haven’t we paid enough?

D Murphy, Newtown, Co Carlow

​Sir — GAAGO was established to serve a viewership abroad. Giving it control of our GAA championships is a very dangerous departure. This cosy cartel-style arrangement between the GAA, RTÉ and GAAGO should be terminated.

Billy Ryle, Tralee, Co Kerry

​Sir — The GAA and RTÉ have not taken into consideration that there are many people, mostly pensioners, who do not possess a smartphone or a PC with internet access. To cap it all, it is now €13 to watch a game. A single pensioner cannot afford to spend that, so it’s all a money game.

Bill Barry, Swords, Co Dublin

​Sir — If the TV coverage issues affecting Munster hurling had instead involved Ulster football, solutions would have been pursued by all with alacrity.

Pat O’Mahony, Westport, Co Mayo

​Sir — While Donal Óg Cusack raised a very valid point on The Sunday Game last weekend about the GAA’s best Munster hurling championship games not being available to free-to-air viewers, it is unfortunate he did not highlight another contentious issue in hurling, which is ball throwing. Watching the ball repeatedly being thrown is just as unpalatable as pay-per-view.

Conor O’Donovan, Tipperary All-Ireland winner, 1989 and 1991

​Eurovision Song Contest no longer at the Wacky Races

Sir — I may be considered an aul wan, but I have watched the Eurovision since the early 1960s and it gets wackier every year.

Maybe it’s time to stop all this nonsense. I’m no party-pooper, I’m just being realistic.

Terry Healy Riordan, Kill, Co Kildare

​Mountbatten lineage not so hard to follow

Sir — I was surprised that the learned Shane Ross confused the familial relationship between King Charles and Lord Louis Mountbatten (Opinion, May 7). Mr Ross — and he is not alone in this — referred to Mountbatten as the king’s great uncle.

That would make Mountbatten (1900-1979) a brother of one of Charles’s great grandparents, which is incorrect. Louis Mountbatten was the brother of the king’s paternal grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg (1885-1969), who was the late Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh’s mother, and thus Mountbatten was Prince Philip’s uncle.

Parents’ siblings are aunts and uncles, grandparents’ siblings are grand aunts and uncles and great grandparents’ siblings are great aunts and uncles. Quite straightforward.

Dr Damien Duffy, Connemara, Co Galway

​Post-game Belfast a coronation-free zone

Sir — In West Belfast on Sunday there was no semblance, let alone any paraphernalia or regalia, of a coronation.

Leaving Corrigan Park after Kilkenny had beaten Antrim in the Leinster senior hurling championship, there appeared written on a gable end wall: “From the bullet to the ballot box — the evolution of the united Ireland revolution.”

Before the border crossing, a banner was draped from a fly-over on which was written, in bold letters: “F**k the King.” Contrast this with President Michael D Higgins’s enthusiastic presence at the coronation of King Charles.

Joseph Mackey, Glasson, Co Westmeath

​Reality check on public spending

Sir — We have much commentary across the media from politicians, lobby groups and commentators about how the Government should use the windfall budget surpluses that are forecast.

Strong evidence suggests Ireland has well-funded public services that under-deliver, continuously, on both quality and value for money analysis. Irish public expenditure has exploded in the past six years from €68.9bn in 2017 to €103.5bn this year.

Clearly, it is tempting and convenient for interest groups to ignore value for money in public spending, but it is a big ask for taxpayers to ignore the quality of service outcomes.

Truly, the cost of the State’s involvement in our daily lives shows no signs of abating; and this from the centrist parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

In fairness to Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath, they do attempt to show reasonable control of public expenditure, but what will it be like if left-wing populist parties enter government after the next election?

Will they be able to say no to the demands of any sizeable lobby group?

In advance of the election, a reality check on public spending is required. What value and outcomes are we getting from our high level of public expenditure?

We need an independent commission on public spending to answer this question. In the meantime, we should invest the windfall tax yields in a newly created sovereign investment fund that can be used to support the pension and healthcare costs of our ageing population.

Mark Mohan, Castleknock, Dublin 15

​Offshore wind farms cause untold damage

Sir — After the announcement of the results of the offshore wind auctions this week, the real losers are the Irish people and the Green Party who champion our marine wildlife, fauna and their environment.

The untold damage that will be done to our marine ecosystem in building these multiple mammoth structures on our eastern and western shores, with an individual height of up to 260 metres, blades spanning 150 metres and with a shelf life of only 20 to 25 years is incalculable.

Gerry Duffy, Cahir, Co Tipperary

​Clifford boys show true spirit of GAA

Sir — I would like to compliment the Clifford brothers for lining out for their native Kerry last Sunday after the saddest day of their lives, having lost their mother the day before.

It showed the great love they had for her and the love and support she had for them in the pursuit of the game they are so good at.

I believe this is a feature of the closeness of the GAA family.

Sean Lavin, Naas, Co Kildare

Bruce Springsteen’s caring heart shows he is The Boss

Sir — In a world gone mad, with so much focus on financial rewards, it was lovely to see Bruce Springsteen take time out to acknowledge and greet Shane MacGowan and Charlie Bird.

What the world needs most is a bit of heart, a bit of humanity and a bit of caring. Springsteen showed he had such qualities.

Margaret Walshe, Clonsilla Road, Dublin 15

​Laundry offenders need to be named

Sir — Having read Maureen Sullivan’s book extract (May 7), I am amazed at her reticence to name and shame the people responsible for her incarceration in the Magdalene laundry in New Ross. ​

Naming and shaming the perpetrators is her only means of obtaining justice, as neither the courts nor the politicians have the courage to take on the Catholic Church.

Bernard Campbell, Clane, Co Kildare

Meaning of ‘hate’ is in eye of the beholder

Sir — David Quinn’s article (May 7) highlights the tension and vagueness within the hate speech bill between free speech, the meaning of hate and the threshold for prosecuting the various guises of hate.

The legislation is ambiguous on what constitutes hate. Bemusedly, it states only that “hatred means hatred”.

Our freedom of expression is allegedly protected because the bill states that hate does not necessarily occur “solely on the basis” that a “discussion or criticism” was directed at “a protected characteristic”.

However, what “discussion or criticism” is or is not allowed is ill-defined, the problem being, as Quinn points out, that hate is very much in the eye of the beholder. In short, a chocolate fireguard has been put in place to give the impression that free speech is safeguarded.

Andy Hales, Kenmare, Co Kerry

​Free speech muzzled by decision in Dáil

Sir — The Letters page of the Sunday Independent gives us a space to express honest opinions.

David Quinn wrote (Opinion, May 7) that the Criminal Justice Bill 2022 was passed in the Dáil recently. How many of us citizens are aware that if this bill is approved in the Seanad, which is almost certain, and we say something about a minority group that someone else says is hateful, a complaint can be made to gardaí and we can be prosecuted?

There will be no more letters to your paper, we will effectively be muzzled. We all have different opinions and free speech allows us to express them. It gives others the opportunity to contradict them. That is democracy.

Nuala Doran, Raheen, Limerick

​Lobbyists ignoring burden of alcohol

Sir — Eoin O’Malley posits (May 7) that lobby groups exert too much influence on government policy. It is somewhat surprising, though, to see no mention of business lobbyists. Certainly, industry influence is very apparent in the proposals in the upcoming Sale of Alcohol Bill to significantly extend licensing hours.

Alcohol Action Ireland researches and puts forward policy measures that aim to reduce the burden of alcohol harm in Ireland. Such advocacy serves the public interest, not vested interest.

With four deaths every day in Ireland from alcohol, surely it is time for a permanent body to comprehensively tackle this staggering loss.

Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO, Alcohol Action Ireland

​Sports punditry has become bland game

Sir — What a wonderful article by Eamonn Sweeney (May 7) on the decline in sport punditry into blandness. A timely article that has application to more than sport.

Paul Colligan, Mount Merrion, Co Dublin

Three simple fixes for housing crisis

Sir — I would like to suggest the following to help resolve the terrible accommodation problem we have:

1. Change legislation/regulation to allow all available rooms above shops to be used to live in.

2. Allow all bedsits to be reused. Sharing a bathroom is not a huge problem. Many patients share bathrooms in hospitals.

3. All large hospitals should have accommodation available for nurses and young doctors. St Vincent’s hospital knocked down the accommodation block there to make way for a car park.

Jim Walsh, Dublin 6

Howe Peter Browne’s fight to end slavery is neglected

Sir — In his article on Ireland’s place and participation in the former British Empire (May 7), Conor Skehan rightly mentions Irish orator Edmund Burke for his support for the abolition of slavery in the 18th century.

Perhaps another Irishman, Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquess of Sligo, from Westport House, deserves more than just a mention for his contribution to that cause.

He is known in the history of Jamaica as Champion of the Slaves. Sligoville, the first free slave village in the world, is named in his honour.

His efforts to end slavery in the West Indies also influenced the struggle in North America, which he visited in 1836 to confer with anti-slavery organisers in New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

This Irish playboy-planter and emancipator more than deserves acknowledgement in the history of emancipation.

Anne Chambers, Rathgar, Dublin 6

Society needs babies to be welcomed now

Sir — Your Letters page correspondent Bernie Linnane (May 7) must be commended for her frank and forthright assertion that “there are too few abortions happening in Ireland — not too many”.

There is, however, a problem that we all need to wake up to. Since the current legislation was brought into effect, we are no longer replacing ourselves. We are staring social suicide in the face; we are inexorably progressing, more correctly accelerating, towards self-annihilation at an ever-increasing rate.

We have the choice: celebrate life, love and laughter. In other words, welcome babies.

Gearóid Duffy, Lee Road, Cork