Varadkar favours RTÉ retaining two orchestras

Micheál Martin says orchestras have been part of Ireland’s cultural life for many decades

John Wilson, former principal of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, leading a rehearsal at the National Concert Hall.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

John Wilson, former principal of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, leading a rehearsal at the National Concert Hall. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he favours the retention of RTÉ’s two orchestras. The national broadcaster is reviewing the future of the National Symphony Orchestra and its Concert Orchestra because of “challenging’’ financial circumstances.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil on Tuesday he would not like to see one of them being lost or the two of them being merged. “I, for one, would like to see both retained.’’ .

He said he would ask Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan and Minister for Communications Denis Naughten, who had responsibility for RTÉ, to come together and examine the issues involved.

Mr Varadkar said it was important the future of the orchestras did not get caught up or be used as part of a campaign for an increase in the licence fee. RTÉ, he said, received considerable State and commercial revenues.

Mr Varadkar was replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who said the orchestras had been part of Ireland’s cultural life for many decades. “Founded in 1948, they have become the biggest employers of musicians throughout the country.’’

He said the Government could not wash its hands of the issue.