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Dear Sir....Readers' views (01/6/2016)

Your view

Brexit proves need for LW Radio

The Brexit referendum shows the importance of keeping an RTÉ Longwave service.

It would clearly be most 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 on this important issue.

The last UK Census shows that 407,000 UK residents are Irish born and that these Irish are older than the average Irish with a median age of 61.7 years.

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

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

The Long Wave 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, which also broadcasts on 252; that station has recently upgraded its hardware so that it can be heard by the Algerian Diaspora across France and 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 than many LW stations have closed leaving free broadcasting space as many have migrated to FM. We are fortunate in having the adjacant channel 261kHz now unoccupoed.

A solution to the Algerian problem can be achieved at almost zero cost and with a little diplomacy by restoring signal to full power and moving to a clear spot on the dial (252kHz) to avoid Radio Algeria that sits on top of the programme.

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

In the past all LW stations changed frequency and most did so in one night including BBC R4 LW (Droitwich) It is important to listen to 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 revelaed in Freedom of Informatin 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 to. Freedom of Information requests to RTÉ seeking the actual energy running costs of LW252 have been turned down with RTÉ claiming commeercial sensitivity.

Enda O’Kane
Irish Overseas Broadcasting (research)
Dublin 6w

Social housing sector neglected

Everyone accepts we have a housing crisis in this country; rents are skyrocketing and people are homeless as a result. Increasing rent supplement rates can only be a temporary solution, as rents will most likely rise in response. Therefore, a more permanent solution is needed.

The tried and tested method of providing good, affordable homes for those on low incomes in years past was social housing. This sector has been sorely neglected of late and needs to be revived. It would go a long way to alleviating the crisis if the government were to commit to spending a figure that matched the several hundred million it spends annually on rent supplement to local authorities and voluntary housing associations to build such housing over the course of say the next five years.

Such a programme would pay for itself ultimately as rent supplement costs would decline in response. More importantly, there would be a greatly improved quality of life for those on low incomes from the increased supply of secure and decent homes that would be available to them.

Revd Patrick G Burke
Co Kilkenny

Friday night pints a loss to our culture

Finian McGrath’s plea for leniency to smokers made me reflect on the pub scene prior to introduction of the smoking ban on February 29th 2004.

On a Friday around 5.30pm there were a number of us who regularly met up at a particular pub. It was no all-night session, just a couple of pints. It was our chance to unwind and to chat about the events of the week. There was also a great buzz among those present as the pub was normally fairly full.

After the ban something happened to the atmosphere, particularly as people were continually leaving the table to go outside for a smoke, and we all slowly stopped meeting on a Friday. Of course when the random breath testing arrived, we found ourselves not going out as much and mostly drinking at home. It is the conversation and the craic in the pub which has been lost.

Although I don’t agree with smoking in pubs or indeed drinking and driving, there is a part of the Irish culture that has gone forever, and sadly a part which I dearly miss.

Damien Carroll
Dublin 24

JobBridge was all about exploitation of young workers

The scrapping of JobBridge cannot come a minute too soon. It was used by the majority of employers as cheap labour which was supposed to be a scheme for unemloyed people to get back into the workforce and hopefully would be employed on after the scheme. This did not happen and they were exploited by employers who knew nothing about the rules and regulations of JobBridge. They used it to suit themselves like many other job training programmes down through the years. When will we ever learn?

Noel Harrington
Co cork

Ambassador’s brave actions

The brave actions of the Canadian Ambassador are to be commended as going beyond any expected sense of duty, even when considering his former position as Sergeant-at-Arms.

It seems to that a somewhat curious issue arises.

The Ambassador is posted here because the Canadian Government like its counterpart in the US can appoint persons from outside their foreign service as an ambassador. I would wonder whether any consideration has been given to such a practice in our country, given the supposed new approach to politics?

Johnnie McCoy B.L.,
Church Street,
Dublin 7.

Meagre resources for education

If Richard Bruton is serious about seeking views on how to “advance the transformation of the education system”, and his Three-Year Plan is more than a crude publicity stunt, then he could begin by reversing some of the swingeing cuts handed out by the previous two governments.

At second level, career guidance has been slashed, one-to-one counselling has been decimated and middle management posts such as year heads and program coordinators have been dismantled. The pupil-teacher ratio for valuable programmes such as the Leaving Cert Applied and the Leaving Cert Vocational Program have increased and a range of grants to cater for disadvantaged students have been cut.

Reducing the already meagre resources available to young people at a time when they have greatest need for them makes little educational or economic sense and will most likely prove more costly in the long term. Hopefully the appointment of Mr Bruton as Minister for Education and Skills will provide a welcome opportunity to undo some of the huge damage done in the past.

Kevin P. McCarthy,
Co. Kerry.

Climate stats show a rising wave

Climate change is in the news again lately. The recent letter from Owen Martin was an excellent review of the long-term temperature cycle (Irish Examiner, May 17). I have just one comment.

I crunched the numbers for annual average temperatures on the island of Ireland. The analysis suggests that a wave model shows a gradually ascending trend in the temperatures for the 115 years from 1900 to 2014. The wave pattern seems to repeat every 60 years. In the 90 years between 1915 and 2005, the wave rose by about one degree Celsius. The decade between 2000 and 2010 was the warmest decade on record in Ireland.

We have only a century or so of continuously observed data exhibiting almost two cycles. We may need many more centuries of data to reach a fully definitive answer. I, too, respect Danny Healy-Rae, TD, for his forthright and sensible comments on climate change (Dáil Éireann, May 4).

Michael Mernagh
Co Cork


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