Sunday, May 23, 2010


Canvassing in East Meath

I’ve commented before on the impact that the new Garda communications system TETRA is having on the reception of some people’s TVs in the north east. The problem arises because the TETRA signal interferes with the signals for the BBC, UTV and Channel 4 coming in from Northern Ireland.

We discussed the matter in the Seanad a few weeks back. At the time Minister Conor Lenihan agreed to arrange a meeting with TETRA to see what could be done. We held that meeting on Thursday last in Leinster House.

After our pre-meeting in the Minister’s office we went across to meet TETRA. On the way we managed to get stuck in a lift, and if it wasn’t for the Irish Army we’d probably still be there! I tweeted about it and the matter was subsequently reported in Miriam Lord’s article in Saturday’s Irish Times.

The meeting went well, but the key point for TETRA is that their systems are working as planned, and hence they are not accepting any responsibility for the issue. Us public representatives are most concerned about those people who cannot afford the fix (there’s one available at a cost, including installation, of between €50 and €400, depending on your TV equipment). We’d like to see something done for them.

What was interesting to note however was that the issue of not receiving the BBC and ITV is going to get even more widespread in a couple of years time, when the signal switches from analogue to digital. At that stage every home will need to buy a decoder box if they want to continue getting Northern Ireland programs.

On Friday evening I went along to The Rose Ball in Dublin. It also doubled as Eamon Gimore’s 21st year as a public representative. There was a big crowd there, and it was good to see so many familiar faces. It felt like our annual conference all over again. I was on the water because I had an early start the next morning. I stayed until just after twelve and then drove home.

Saturday was the hottest day of the year. We had canvassing arranged for East Meath so despite the day being more suited to lying on the beach, we carted ourselves from estate to estate. There were lots of people at home, with frequent smells of BBQs from back gardens. Without exception people were in good form, enjoying the balmy weather. Let’s hope it lasts until September. I think we could all do with a respite from the miserable climate we’ve had for the last year. Also, it might have a positive effect on the home tourism market, which we’re all concerned about due to the ash cloud.

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