MID-ULSTER MLA Francie Molloy has hit out at Irish broadcaster RTE after it said it would block its signal to the province during Autumn Rugby Internationals from 2014 to 2017.
Mr Molloy expressed his dismay at the decision along with Dáil colleague, and 26 County Spokesperson on Sports, Sandra McLellan TD.
“My colleague Sandra McLellan TD has been in touch with RTÉ about its decision and received confirmation that the signal will be blocked to the Six Counties as a result of a contractual arrangement which it entered into with the IRFU.
“I find it incredible that the Irish National Broadcaster would even countenance entering into a commercial contract that would exclude a sizeable section of the Irish people from access to its coverage of major sporting fixtures.
“I also believe that it runs contrary to the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement which promised increased accessibility to national cultural broadcasting.
“It is equally unbelievable that the IRFU would sign a contract with Sky Sports that will for all intents and purposes deny up to 30% of its supporters the enjoyment of watching their national team in action.
From 2014 people living in Northern Ireland will have to subscribe to Sky Sport if they wish to watch international rugby matches as the BBC has lost the rights to broadcast the games and RTÉ has entered a contractual agreement covering the rights in the southern state only.
Mr Molloy continued: “The international rugby team is an all island team. The team’s mixture in terms of culture and religion reflects the islands diversity and it is an excellent example of the positive role that sport can play in bringing people together.
“It beggars belief that a thirty-two county organization such as the IRFU would sign a contract without first examining the potential negative consequences for a large section of its fans. More importantly, I am alarmed that RTÉ, the national broadcaster would contemplate excluding those citizens living in the North from access to its broadcasts.”