The Radio, The Universities and The Culture in Ireland

Yesterday at the end of a busy week I finally got round to booking a ticket for next Friday’s Culture Night performance at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. That will be my first concert of the new season and I’m looking forward to it. Among other things, it gives me the chance to persevere with Brahms…

However, later on in the evening yesterday I heard via one of the presenters of RTÉ lyric fm, the radio station on which next week’s concert will be broadcast, that there are plans afoot to close down the channel because of funding difficulties.

Since I first arrived in Ireland nearly two years ago, I searched through the available radio stations for one that I could listen to and it didn’t take me long to settle on RTÉ lyric fm, which has been a regular source of edification, relaxation and stress relief for me. I fear its loss tremendously. I’m not the only one. If you’re on Twitter, take a look at the hashtag #savelyricfm.

I listen to the jovial Marty Whelan in the morning before work, and when I get home in the evenings I enjoy John Kelly’s Mystery Train followed by Bernard Clarke’s The Blue of the Night on weekdays and Ellen Cranitch’s The Purple Vespertine at the weekends. All these programmes have intriguingly eclectic playlists, from classical to jazz and beyond, and presenters who clearly know and love the music. It’s not just a music channel, of course. RTÉ lyric fm covers culture and the arts generally, and is the only channel run by RTÉ – which is meant to be a public service broadcaster – that has this area as its province. It would be a crying shame as well as an abdication of its cultural responsibility if all this were lost to save the paltry amount of money required to keep the station going. I’ll do anything I can to save RTÉ lyric fm. For me it really is one of the very best things about Ireland.

I might add that I stopped watching television many years ago and don’t have a TV set. I’m even less inclined to get one now that I’m in Ireland as the schedules are dominated by the kind of crappy programmes I didn’t watch when I lived in Britain and have even less reason to watch now. The radio, on the other hand, in something I enjoy a lot.

Another item that was doing the rounds last week was the publication of the annual Times Higher Education World Rankings. I’ll save a proper rant about the stupidity and dishonesty of these league tables for another occasion, but one thing that has preoccupied the media here about the results is that Irish universities have done rather badly: Trinity College, for example, has fallen 44 places since last year. While I don’t trust these tables much, together with Ireland’s very poor showing in the recent ERC grant round, they do paint a consistent picture of a higher education system that is struggling with with the consequences of years of chronic underfunding.

(I’ll add that Maynooth University bucked the trend a bit, rising from the band covering 351st-400th place to that covering 301st to 350th place. That means that Maynooth went up by anything from 1 place to 99 places. There can be little doubt who is responsible for this…)

For me these stories are both consequences of the prevailing political culture in Ireland, which is a form of neoliberalism that deems neither culture nor public service nor education to be things of value in themselves and therefore just leaves them to dwindle through lack of care. The only think that matters is the cycle of production and consumption. Culture is irrelevant.

While the Irish economy is booming – at least in terms of GDP growth – the proceeds of this growth go to a relatively small number of rich individuals and multinational corporations while most people don’t see any benefit at all, either in their own salaries, or in investment in the public services. Austerity for everyone except the rich has been the policy for the last decade in Ireland as it has in the United Kingdom and the consequences are plain for all to see, in the arts, in the universities and in the lives of ordinary people.

Advertisements

14 Responses to “The Radio, The Universities and The Culture in Ireland”

  1. andrew whittle Says:

    Just to note that the station is not available from Germany over the net whereas BBC3 is.

  2. andrew whittle Says:

    The page is there but ‘Listen Live’ is dead, as are the ‘play’ Buttons on the last broadcast pieces. I’ll have to stick with wdr3.de.

  3. “the proceeds of this growth go to a relatively small number of rich individuals and multinational corporations while most people don’t see any benefit at all, either in their own salaries, or in investment in the public services. Austerity for everyone except the rich has been the policy for the last decade in Ireland as it has in the United Kingdom and the consequences are plain for all to see, in the arts, in the universities and in the lives of ordinary people.”

    Time to change countries again?

    • This is a problem across many countries, not just Ireland and the UK.

      • Yes, but some do much better than others. Whatever one thinks of selling oil to subsidize electric cars, putting the profits into a national pension fund instead of private companies was a good move by Norway.

      • Indeed. Scandinavian countries have sorted themselves out better than most. I didn’t have a Danish grandfather, however…

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      The principal cause of widening inequality is money printing: the money printed goes first to the investment banks to gamble with. Yet money printing is deemed to be the only way to prevent another 2008. So let us tax the investment banks, rather than individuals and small businesses, in any redistribution scheme. They are after all the ones who scuppered the Irish economy early this century.

      • Interesting take. I rather think the principal cause is tax avoidance, as exemplified by the pro-Brexit elite. The EU’s planned clampdown against this was one of the key drivers of Brexit.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Among the various Brexiteers I know, not one voted for it for that reason. The wealthy tend to be pro-Remain, in fact, certainly in London.

      • In the case of many wealthy, they are probably avoiding tax, legally or illegally, so for them Brexit would have no direct financial effect, so it might be worth it to stay in just for convenience.

      • Presumably you don’t mean literal printing.

        Back when currency was backed by the gold standard there was even more inequality than today, so I don’t think that it is that simple.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        You need to look not at inequality but at d(inequality)/dt, Phillip.

        Money printing is of course a euphemism for creation of currency either by government, or by banks licensed by government, to create currency unbacked by assets. How long ago do you think that a pound weight of silver was worth a pound of English currency (known as ‘sterling’ after a purity category of silver)? The answer is well before the Norman Conquest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: