THE HOUSES of the Oireachtas are to be screened on a television near you – if you have a UPC connection, that is.
UPC Ireland is launching its dedicated parliamentary channel Oireachtas TV on digital channel 801 on a pilot basis.
The first broadcast will kick off at 2pm today and will cover the Dáil, although the channel will also provide coverage of Seanad sessions as well as committee events which do not clash with Dáil sessions.
Dáil, Seanad and Oireachtas committee proceedings are currently available for live viewing through the Oireachtas website. Archived coverage is also available on the site, and details on the rest of this week’s Oireachtas business can be read here.
Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett said he was delighted that the service is launching today and said he sees it as a step towards increasing public access to the parliament and its members:
I am excited by the prospect and possibilities of this project and hope that the public will use this facility to follow the work of the Houses of the Oireachtas. In time I hope that this service can be rolled out by the other TV providers so that all the citizens of Ireland can have universal access to watch and listen to their National Parliament.
“From today 957,000 people in 328,000 homes in Ireland will have the choice to watch and listen to live and recorded footage from the Dáil, Seanad and Committees meeting in Leinster House,” Barrett said today.
“As this is a pilot, the public will be invited to give their views and feedback,” he added. “I am eager to hear from the public about their ideas on this initiative and invite them to e-mail TV@oireachtas.ie.”
The move appears to be along similar lines to parliamentary coverage abroad; the BBC airs round-the-clock coverage of the British parliament on its digital channel BBC Parliament, while the Danish parliament is aired on Folketinget TV.
UPC Ireland CEO Dana Strong said the broadcaster was enthusiastic about working with the Houses of the Oireachtas for such a project, saying: “We believed from the outset that a dedicated Oireachtas channel would be of great interest and benefit to consumers and that is why we are focused on developing a channel that would provide a comprehensive insight into the inner workings of the Irish Parliament.”
The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission says that this service is being provided at no additional cost to the Oireachtas or the taxpayer and it is in contact with the other service providers and hopes to extend this Oireachtas broadcast coverage to other channels.
Today’s Dáil coverage on UPC Ireland will commence at 2pm and end at 9.30pm.