Sinn Féin complained about ‘painfully slow’ availability of TG4 in the North

State papers: Gerry Adams wrote to Irish and British governments about the TG4 issue in 2000, citing commitments in the Belfast Agreement

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams wrote to both taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Northern secretary Peter Mandelson in 2000 to complain about the “painfully slow” progress in ensuring TG4, the Irish-language television service, was available in Northern Ireland.

Adams wrote to both politicians in October 2000 reminding them that securing widespread availability of TG4 was one of the obligations contained in the Belfast Agreement. “As you are aware the movement on this issue has been painfully slow. While I acknowledge that there has been an improvement in some areas, reception in the greater Belfast area and other areas in the six counties remains extremely poor,” Adams wrote.

In his response Ahern said the RTÉ transmitters in Clermont Can in Co Louth had been boosted the previous year to allow about 70 per cent of the area of the North to be covered. However, he said it would be difficult using the technology available at the time to make “significant improvements”.

Ahern said that new digital cable services allowed RTÉ to be available on cable in the North, and said that TG4 would also be directing its attention to achieving a similar method of coverage in Northern Ireland.

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In his reply Mandelson was more guarded. He said the British government was committed to the availability of TG4 as long as it did not impact on existing or planned UK services. He also referred to digital networks being developed across the UK, and said that RTÉ 1 and RTÉ 2 were about to be available on cable in the North. “Other services, including TG4, may be added in due course. There may be similar opportunities to carry these services on digital satellites.”

(National Archive file 2023/155/23)

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