RTÉ 2FM changes direction but ‘remains committed’ to Gaeilge


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

RTÉ 2FM changes direction but ‘remains committed’ to Gaeilge RTÉ 2FM changes direction but ‘remains committed’ to Gaeilge

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley 

In 2015, RTÉ launched an ‘action plan’ for the Irish language. It contained initiatives such as the introduction of Irish language news bulletins on 2FM, delivered by staff of RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, including those based in Conamara.

Galway man Rónán Mac Con Iomaire, who back then was RTÉ Group Head, Irish Language, said the plan “seeks to integrate the Irish language into everything we do in RTÉ”.

At the time, according to RTÉ News, it was welcomed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny as an “integral part of the implementation of the 20-year strategy for the Irish-language 2010-2030, which is the cornerstone of Government policy in this area”.

Alas, the Irish bulletins on 2FM are not so integral, it seems. The station has now quietly dropped them.

Who cares, you might ask. But RTÉ is the national broadcaster. And as such, it has a special responsibility towards the Irish language. Yes, RnaG provides a vital service to Gaeltacht areas and to its Irish language listenership. But it cannot be expected to do the heavy-lifting alone.

RTÉ radio has a responsibility to the Irish language, whether it likes it or not. Part of its public service remit is a commitment to Irish language programming. That’s not just an aspiration. By law, RTÉ must provide a certain percentage of programming ‘as Gaeilge’.

We know the Coimisinéir Teanga (language commissioner), based in Na Forbacha, has previously highlighted RTÉ’s failures to fulfil its commitment to Irish language programming.

Despite the removal of the Nuacht bulletins, Head of 2FM Dan Healy (pictured) insisted the station “remains committed to the Irish language in its schedule”.

He told Bradley Bytes: “We believe that 2FM’s 1.30pm Nuacht bulletin is not an appointment to listen for Irish language speakers and doesn’t offer a viable listening opportunity to non-fluent speakers.

“In 2023, 2FM has introduced bilingual travel bulletins, Monday to Friday, during our midweek breakfast show. We are also introducing a new weekend bilingual breakfast show with Blaithnaid (sic) Treacy on Saturdays and Sundays, and we will continue with our National Chart Show in both languages.

“These changes represent the start of 2FM bringing more Irish language to our listeners which we believe will better promote the Irish language to our audience.”

Taken on face value, getting rid of Nuacht bulletins and focusing on other Irish language programming appropriate to its young audience, might be in the best interests of 2FM. But is it what’s best for Irish?

And will it encourage the D4 decision makers in Montrose to move to axe Irish-language news bulletins from RTÉ Radio One? If that happens, what’s next?

The reality is that without Irish output on RTÉ, the language is screwed.

So today, St Patrick’s Day, the final day of Seachtain na Gaeilge, is an appropriate time to ponder our national broadcaster’s relationship with, and responsibility to, the Irish language.
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the March 17 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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