SIPTU and Musicians’ Union of Ireland (MUI) representatives have welcomed the support expressed yesterday (Tuesday, 12th December) by Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, for the future of the RTÉ orchestras and his call for the Ministers involved to seek to ensure both are maintained.
SIPTU Organiser, Graham Macken, said: “Speaking yesterday during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, called on the Government to intervene in order to guarantee that funding for the National Symphony Orchestra and the National Concert Orchestra would be ring-fenced into the future. He said the orchestras were a key component of the ‘musical eco system’ and they should not become a victim in a tug-of-war regarding the licence fee.
“The Taoiseach stated that he ‘would like to see both retained and for both to prosper’. He added that he would ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, and the. Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, who have responsibility for the matter, to come together ‘to examine the issues to see if anything can be done to secure the future of the two orchestras’.”
“This commitment by the Taoiseach follows the announcement last month that RTÉ management had contracted former BBC executive Helen Boaden and consulting firm Mediatique to conduct an independent review of its orchestral services.”
He added: “The ongoing review of the national orchestras is a matter of concern to the workers directly involved and the wider community of musicians in Ireland. For seventy years the orchestras have been a source of quality full-time employment for musicians and aspiring musicians. Our members have served the nation well. As a nation, our orchestras are intrinsic to our music, culture and broadcasting.
“In recent weeks, SIPTU and our affiliate the Musicians Union of Ireland launched the Love Your Orchestras Campaign. The aim of this campaign is to see staffing levels at both orchestras restored to a level that meets the international standard for similar groups.”