Raidió na Gaeltachta (RnaG) has been accused of abandoning Mayo and its Gaeltacht regions. At present, the Irish language radio station broadcasts a number of programmes from the RTÉ studio in Castlebar, but The Mayo News has learned that broadcasting from the studio is to cease at the end of the month.
The current Mayo-based broadcaster, Máirtín Mac Donnchadha is expected to leave the station through the voluntary redundancy programme and is not expected to be replaced due to cutbacks. As a result, there will be no full-time broadcaster covering the Mayo region and its three Gaeltachtaí. Instead Mayo will be covered from the RnaG headquarters in Casla, Conamara.
Responding to questions from The Mayo News, a spokesperson for RnaG refused to confirm the station’s plans to cease broadcasting from Castlebar. The spokesperson said that as a result of the voluntary redundancy programme, many staff are leaving the organisation, and all areas of operation are under review.
“At this stage, no decision has been made concerning RTÉ studios in Castlebar, or the Raidió na Gaeltachta coverage from there. We would like to be able to maintain our current level of service, but this may not be possible. Raidió na Gaeltachta remains committed to serving the Mayo Gaeltacht regions, but the way in which we do that may have to change,” the spokesperson stated.
Seán Ó hÉalaí, former broadcaster with RnaG for the Mayo region, expressed his disappointment that the station looked set to cease broadcasting from Castlebar. He told The Mayo News that before he started broadcasting for the station, the Mayo Gaeltacht had been abandoned by Raidió Na Gaeltachta and he feels the same thing is happening again.
“I was with RnaG for 19 years before I left ten years ago and before that Mayo had been abandoned by RnaG. There were no shows from Mayo, and I’m afraid that could happen again. I proved that you could broadcast material and fill a programme from Mayo, and if that ends it will be very sad and the end of an era.
“We encouraged people from all over Mayo who may not have thought they had good Irish to come on the air and they realised that they could converse in Irish and it gave them confidence. They would talk about issues in their region and people would listen to them. If that avenue to speak the language is lost it could have consequences for the promotion of the language in the county,” he said.
Mr Ó hÉalaí added that it was a sad reflection on the status of Irish in the county that there was not a bigger outcry that this service is to be lost in the county.
Máirtín Mac Donnchadha currently presents the ‘I gCeartlár na nDaoine’ three days a week. The programme is a mix of interviews, music and conversation, covering topical issues of interest to Mayo. He also presents ‘Parlaimint Mhaigh Eo’, a weekly live broadcast focusing on matters of national and international significance and their relevance and importance to Mayo.