Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Preservation of Recorded Programmes.

289.

asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will arrange for urgent consultations between the national archive authorities and RTE to ensure that taped programmes of historic interest will be properly assessed and protected.

I am informed by Radio Telefís Éireann that they consider that the arrangements in force for the preservation of recorded material are satisfactory. I understand, however, that they propose to consult with the various public archive authorities with a view to seeing whether any improvements in the arrangements are practicable.

I would be loath to accuse the Minister of waffling, but is he aware of the considerable public disquiet concerning the alleged cleaning of the tapes of a good deal of the work of the late Seán Ó Riada with the result that that work is not now available to the nation? A great deal of his work is lost to the nation. That is one of the reasons why I put down this question. I wanted to make sure that historic material of this nature is retained for posterity.

The decision to clean the Ó Riada tapes was based on the judgment that the material involved was not of high significance in the context of the corpus of his work, and the expectation that there would be future occasions on which to record for television performances of a greater importance. We all know that the composer's untimely death frustrated this latter expectation.

I should like to assure Deputy Desmond and the House that there are 15 hours of audio material of Seán Ó Riada's work preserved in RTE; 14 programmes of "Our Musical Heritage", 12 programmes of "Reactaireacht An Riadaigh", two performances of "Banks of the Sullane", one programme of "Composers at Work— Seán Ó Riada", two performances of "Nomos No. 4", one recording of "Nomos No. 2", one performance of an overture "Olynthiac", one recording of "Feararise" and some other speech material relating to Moy, Kerry and Muskerry. So, the RTE people have quite a lot of this material. To correct an impression which may have been taken from some of the newspaper reports that many of these tapes were cleaned, the ones that were cleaned were cleaned back as far as 1966.

In fairness to RTE it should be said that the 14 hours were recorded by RTE and that it was not a question of Danish material being brought back.

What I have read out to the House is what RTE have and what they are responsible for making.

Is there any truth in the rumour that appeared in the papers to the effect that the Jimmy O'Dea tapes had been cleaned. We may never have his like again. He was able to make us laugh. That was stated in the papers.

Only the poorer material was cleaned from the tapes involved and RTE retained quite a lot of material portraying the late Jimmy O'Dea.

Did they retain any of the L'Estrange interviews?

Deputy L'Estrange can be assured that all his audio and visual material will be well and truly kept in the Fianna Fáil archives.