Minister Eamon Ryan (left) with Cllr Cadogan Enright at the Green Party 2009 Convention in Dundalk

Down Councillor Cadogan Enright has welcomed the news that Communications Minister Eamon Ryan was able to reach agreement with his British counterpart Ben Bradshaw on key aspects of the digital TV future for the island of Ireland.

Councillor Cadogan Enright said: “The deal reached this week will provide free BBC and RTÉ digital TV services to households across the island, following the switchover to digital television. This will benefit hundreds of thousands of people – especially those without access to paid-for cable and satellite services.”

“Whether people are interested in sport, drama, history or culture, both BBC and RTÉ offer a wide range of compelling programming and I am delighted that households in Down will be able to access all of these programmes after the analogue TV signals are switched off in the years ahead.”

“In recent weeks we have seen evidence of the gulf that still exists between communities within Northern Ireland. It is also clear that there is a lack of understanding between people living in the north and south of the island. So it is very much in the interest of fostering cultural understanding and development between all communities that these channels should be freely accessibly across the island. The Good Friday Agreement and St Andrews Agreement recognise the importance of the unique cultural and linguistic diversities that exist on the island of Ireland, and this will help to promote and protect those diversities.”

“The Green Party first called for there to be an all-island digital ‘free to air’ broadcasting service carrying RTÉ and BBC channels back in 2007, before entering Government in the Republic of Ireland. It is fantastic to see this commitment becoming a reality,” Cllr Enright said

“When we went into power with Fianna Fail in the Republic we made sure that included in the agreed Program for Government were cross-border issues that directly concerned us here in County Down. Issues like mobile phone charges, banking competition, public transport and targets for renewable energy on the all-Island Grid. With this latest announcement, we have successfully ticked another item off the list and it will delight many voters across South Down,” he said.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan and Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of Culture, Media and Sport signed a Memorandum of Understanding in London on Monday, 1 February 2010. This provides a framework for the changes that are taking place in Northern Ireland and Ireland to the technologies used in the reception of television services. Switchover in Northern Ireland is planned for 2012 with digital TV rollout being planned for Ireland on a similar timescale.

Press Cuttings: Enright’s welcome for television agreement, Irish Language channels boost, Councillor welcomes free to air broadcasting.