Almost 50 staff members in RTÉ have written to Director General, Mr. Noel Curran, to express their concern at the “lack of coverage” of Irish language issues in English-language news and current affairs programmes on RTÉ.
The correspondence specifically mentions the manner in which RTÉ News covered the resignation of Seán Ó Cuirreáin as Language Commissioner last December. Ó Cuirreáin, who announced he was stepping down from his role due to a failure to provide adequate services for Irish language speakers, became the first ombudsman since the foundation of the State to resign in protest against government policy.
On the day of his announcement before an Oireachtas committee, RTÉ’s main news bulletins on television covered the resignation with thirty seconds of pictures, accompanied by a voice over from the newsreader.
The letter sent to Mr. Curran questions whether the coverage reflected the importance of the story: “If the Welsh language Commissioner resigned under similar circumstances is it conceivable that the English language services of BBC Wales would pay almost no attention to it? If the Ombudsman, the Children’s Ombudsman or a member of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission were to resign in similar circumstances, would RTÉ ignore the story?”
A spokesperson for RTÉ said the contents of the letter were still being considered by Mr. Curran but pointed to the Director General’s comments on the recent findings of an RTÉ working group on the Irish language which acknowledged the need to improve RTÉ’s services in Irish and set out several policy recommendations with regard to Irish-language broadcasting.
Responding to those recommendations, which were approved by both the Executive and the Board of RTÉ, Mr. Curran said the provision of programming and services in the Irish language “was central to RTÉ’s public purpose and remit” and that “implementation will now be the focus”.