Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 4 Dec 1946

Vol. 103 No. 13

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Broadcast Reports of Oireachtas Proceedings.

asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will cause to be placed in the Oireachtas Library, for the purposes of reference, not later than the day after broadcast, copies of all references to the Oireachtas proceedings broadcast by Radio Éireann.

In reply to a previous similar request by the Deputy, I said that in my opinion the very condensed reports of the Oireachtas debates broadcast in the radio bulletins would be of no practical use for reference purposes. That is still my view and I am not, therefore, prepared to accede to the request.

Is the Minister aware that there is grave dissatisfaction among certain sections of the general public that the Opposition point of view is not systematically or adequately given over the radio as compared with the point of view of speakers from the Government Party, and even if only in defence of his own Department but mainly in justice to Deputies in relation to the general privileges of the House, will he not see, as could quite easily be done, that a copy of the radio statements will be placed in the Library?

I do not think that would be a solution of the problem. The fact is that the reports have to be very abbreviated and have to deal mainly with decisions and official statements as being the most useful and important for the public. If any particular matter arises, I invite Deputies to make representations to the Director as to their dissatisfaction. Such representations have been made very occasionally to him, I may say, from different parts of the House—as much perhaps from our side as from any other. They occur very occasionally. I do feel that there is something lacking in the broadcasting system but it could not be treated as a news item. What we really should have is a feature describing the work of the Dáil for the benefit of the public. Only in such circumstances could we give a balanced account of the expression of opinion by all parts of the House.

Does the Minister not understand that I am speaking of what purports to be the expression of views in debate and that, in fairness both to his Department and the members of the Oireachtas, anything given over the radio, purporting to be a summary of the debate, of the actual opinions of speakers, ought to be placed in the Library so that we can keep the whole situation under review from time to time? It is not adequate to suggest that, when we happen to listen to the radio and hear something, we should run and make a complaint.

As a matter of fact, I think that would be a wrong policy because it would interfere with the independence of the broadcasting service and with the attempt to be as objective as possible, if the authorities there thought their reports were to be laid before the House, and criticised and examined. The news section of broadcasting would then be run from this House, instead of being run from the station. What I suggest is very much more satisfactory—that if there are specific complaints, they should be made and made immediately they arise.

Who compiles the news items?

The news editor and his staff, and I want to take this opportunity of complimenting him on his magnificent work.

We thought it was Fianna Fáil headquarters.

Would the Minister not consider introducing a feature, apart altogether from news, such as "Today in Parliament" which we get from the British radio?

That is what I should like to do, but it is difficult to get the right man to do it, and to do it properly.