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Dear Sir... Readers' Views (14/06/16)

Your letters, your view

RTÉ must keep its longwave service to UK

The Brexit referendum on whether or not Britain will leave the EU shows the importance of an RTÉ Longwave service.

It would be unhelpful for RTÉ to cut this vital broadcasting service to the UK, when it is in Ireland’s interest to be able to reach our emigrants resident in the UK.

The last UK census shows that 407,000 UK residents are Irish-born and that these have a median age of 61.7 years.

There is a high likelihood that these listeners will use traditional radios, hence the importance of LW252, rather than digital.

There are a further five million UK residents who have at least one Irish grandparent, and many of these will use Landbridge services on family visits, for which RTÉ LW252 is the only broadcast available.

The longwave service is vital. It is essential that this service be retained, for both Ireland’s interest and the benefit of the Irish diaspora. But there is room for improvement, as well.

Some areas, including London, experience interference, particularly at night, from the Algerian station that also broadcasts on 252; that station has recently upgraded its hardware, so that it can be heard by the Algerian diaspora across France and it is ten times stronger than LW252.

Ireland’s allocation of 252kHz dates from the Cold War-propaganda era and was a compromise solution at the time. Since then, many LW stations have closed, leaving free broadcasting space. We are fortunate in having the adjacent channel, 261kHz, now unoccupied.

A solution to the Algerian problem can be achieved at zero cost by restoring the signal to full power and moving to a clear spot on the dial (261kHz), to avoid Radio Algeria, which sits on top of the programme.

This is a simple fix, requiring no structural change to the tower, other than minor adjustments at its base (retuning).

In the past, all LW stations in Europe changed frequency and most did so in one night, including BBC R4 LW (Droitwich).

It is important to heed the outcry that resulted when RTÉ attempted to close Radio One LW252. We await the publication of the UK listenership research and understand that thousands of listeners responded, even though, unknown to the respondents, the signal had been turned down during the survey period, as revealed in Freedom of Information requests to RTÉ.

This weakening of the signal would have caused many in London to have bad reception.

They would also have had difficulty in hearing the station announcements about the listenership survey, and how and where to respond. Freedom of Information requests to RTÉ, seeking the actual energy running costs of LW252, have been turned down, with RTÉ claiming commercial sensitivity.

Enda O’Kane

Irish Overseas Broadcasting (research)



The girl in iconic Vietnam photo

An exceptional woman will be at the Immrama Festival of Travel Writing, in Lismore, Co Waterford, on Saturday, June 18. Kim Phuc Phan Thi is a UNESCO goodwill ambassador for peace. She will speak about dialogue, as opposed to war, as a means of solving political problems. She will also speak about the Vietnam War, in which she was badly hurt, in 1972, by a bomb. That incident was the subject of a famous photograph of Kim, aged nine, running in shock, having torn off her burning clothes. Keloid scars developed on her back and arms. The attack killed two of her relatives, when they and others, and the South Vietnam army, were leaving a religious event near Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and were mistaken for North Vietnam forces by a South Vietnam air-force pilot.

She later went to Cuba to study, met and married her husband, who is also from Vietnam, and defected to Canada, in 1992, with the help of the Quakers. In 2015, she began treatment with a new medical laser, which softens and reduces scars.

Robert MacNamara was US Secretary of Defence, until he went to the World Bank, in 1968. His son asked him, years later, why didn’t he tell the truth to US President Lyndon Johnson about the war that couldn’t be won. He said he couldn’t be disloyal. Which doesn’t sound like the confident man who was made defence secretary by President John Kennedy in 1961.

The main war was from 1965 to 1972, when the US military mostly left. It ended in 1975. Millions of bombs were dropped by the US, in an all-out-effort to stop the communist regime in North Vietnam from taking over south Vietnam.

By 1968, the US government could not tell the American public that the war couldn’t be won. The media did. President Johnson did not run for a second term, in 1968. Richard Nixon succeeded him. The war went on. The conflict had begun in 1965, years before the US were fully involved.

Bill Clinton was the first US president to visit Vietnam, in 2000, since the war and he did so again in 2014, for the Clinton Foundation. US President Barack Obama visited Vietnam and Hiroshima in Japan last month. Visits of reconciliation. One to two million people from all sides were killed in the Vietnam war. That war could have ended much sooner

Mary Sullivan

College Road


Why celebrate Pentecost early?

Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday took place on Saturday, June 11, as part of her 90th celebration year, and although it was the Biblical Sabbath Day (Saturday), it was also Pentecost in the Biblical or Hebrew calendar. At sunset on Saturday, the celebration of Pentecost, or Shavuot in Hebrew, which means Feast of Weeks, began, and it ended the following day, as all Biblical days do, at sunset.

The word ‘shavua’, in Hebrew, meaning ‘week,’ is taken from the word ‘sheva,’ meaning ‘seven,’ and ‘Shavuot’ is plural for ‘weeks’ or ‘sevens,’ as the holiday takes place seven weeks, or 49 days, after Passover and celebrates the wheat harvest. It is also known as ‘First Fruits.’

It is on this day that the Holy Spirit fell, in the Book of Acts, upon those gathered in Jerusalem, and about 3,000 were added to the Church that day. This is often regarded as the ‘birthday’ of the Church, so how appropriate for it to be, also, the official celebration of the 90th birthday of the British monarch, who is also the head of the Church of England.

It is called Pentecost from the word for ‘fifty’, as “when the Day of Pentecost had fully come,” it was the fiftieth day. This was a Jewish holiday long before it was observed by the Church, and still is today.

Ironically, though, the Church celebrates it on a different date to the Biblical one, as it connects it to ‘Easter,’ which is a man-made tradition, named after a pagan deity, Ishtar, whereas Shavuot is connected to the Passover of the Lord, (Nisan 14th), the date on which Jesus (Yeshua) was crucified and had His final Passover meal (the preceding evening and following day making up one day). It was on this date He asked us to remember His death, yet, in reality, few ever do, since ‘Easter’ focuses on the Resurrection, even though Yeshua never asked anyone to venerate that.

It seems we have lost the Jewish roots of the Church, despite Yeshua being a circumcised Jew.

Perhaps, this Pentecost, we will pause to think why the Church had to celebrate this on May 15 instead of June 12. In reality, both Christians and Jews could observe this holiday together, if for markedly different reasons.

If the Hebrew calendar was good enough for Jesus/Yeshua, it should be also be good enough for us.

Happy Pentecost/Shavuot.

Colin Nevin


Co Down

There is no ‘right to abort’ in UN Treaty

Please permit me to place on record the truth about Ireland’s law on abortion. Ireland’s law on abortion does not violate the UN’s International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (UNCCPR), or any other UN Treaty for that matter.

There is no ‘right to kill’ any unborn child in any UN Treaty signed up to by the Irish government.

The UN Human Rights Committee that ruled against Ireland has got it wrong and not for the first time. This committee has a history of reinterpreting the provisions of the treaty it monitors, obviously to suit itself and further its pro-abortion ideologies.

The timing of this has all the hallmarks of a pro-abortion coup, aimed at pressurising the Irish Government to proceed with the appointment of the proposed Citizen’s Assembly. Will the Government bow to this unwarranted pressure?

Only time will tell.

Nora Bennis

Revington Park

NCR, Limerick

Ireland cannot interfere in Egypt

Journalist Peter Greste (himself convicted of ‘criminal’ activities by Egyptian Authorities) alleges the Irish Government is not doing enough to secure the release of Ibrahim Halawa from an Egyptian prison.

Except for superpowers, it is extremely difficult and inappropriate for any government to ‘interfere’ in the internal affairs of another country.

Despite the views of Mr. Greste, the Halawa family have generated considerable support and sympathy for Ibrahim, including having the matter discussed at EU level.

Ireland has, until now, been very fortunate not to suffer from ‘fundamentalism’ or ‘jihadism’, both of which I have experienced first hand, in places like Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan.

Not pleasant experiences.

Michael A. Moriarty




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