andJ. Brennan asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs whether he is aware that in a recent feature entitled “Who's News” broadcast by Radio Éireann, a Swedish newspaper editor was asked why more Swedish people did not visit the British Isles, and particularly Dublin; whether the script was previously approved of; and if he will take steps to ensure that no such insult to the nation will be repeated.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Radio Éireann Interview Script.
As the House has approved of the general idea that the day-to-day administration of Radio Éireann should be left to the Comhairle and Director, I suggest that this question should have been addressed direct to Radio Eireann.
I understand from the Director that the phrase "British Isles" was not used by the Radio Éireann interviewer. The Swedish newspaper editor concerned was asked why more Swedish people do not visit Dublin and, in his reply, he said that the cost of transporting a car to the British Isles, "including Dublin," is prohibitive. The expression "British Isles" is, of course, a widely used geographical term for these islands and there was no question of an intentional insult to the nation.
The recorded interviews for "Who's News" are unscripted, but they are played back, timed and edited before the programme is broadcast.
Arising out of the Minister's fantastic reply, is he aware that he has just informed this House that the term "British Isles" is commonly used to describe these islands to visitors? Now that he has admitted that that interview took place and that this country was held up to odium, will the, Minister not ensure, as asked in the question, that there will not be a repetition of the insult?
I passed this matter on to the Director for his observations. He says that the expression was used in the sense of a generally well-known geographical term. It was used by the Swede. However, I shall pass the Deputy's references back to the Director.
I would point out that I was listening to the broadcast. The words specifically used by the interviewer were: "Why do more Swedish people not visit the British Isles, and particularly Dublin?" The Swede could barely speak English so he did not make any reference whatever to the British Isles or Dublin. He answered to the best of his ability; that does not arise. On a point of such public importance, will the Minister throw the onus on the Director of Broadcasting of Radio Eireann and will he take no steps, as was asked in the question, to ensure that there will not be such an insult to the nation again?
I will pass the Deputy's observations back to the Director.
Will the Minister further state whether the scripts of these interviews are presented to the Director of Radio Eireann prior to the interview taking place?
That is a separate matter.
I submit that it has a bearing on the question. The Minister should be in a position to let us know if the script is presented——
Tripe by any other name would smell as sweet.
Is the Minister aware that the action of his predecessor in taking from this Assembly the right to examine the day-to-day activities of that body has led us into this situation?
Deputy Desmond is always very anxious to explain things.
Question No. 16.