Ó Caoláin: demanded action

THE garda's new €100m digital radio system has caused havoc by blocking the TV reception of thousands of householders in the Cavan/Monaghan region over Christmas.

Tetra, the new digital mobile radio service, had been rolled out nationwide for use by the gardaí and emergency services. It is superior to the previous garda radio system and is encrypted, ensuring criminals cannot use scanners to monitor police communications.

Communications regulator Comreg said last summer it had already prepared an information leaflet, which has been distributed to garda stations nationwide, for householders whose TV reception is affected.

Sinn Féin Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has demanded action from the communications minister Eamon Ryan and the justice minister Dermot Ahern to solve the problems being caused in his constituency.

"I have been contacted by people throughout my constituency who lost their TV reception since before Christmas as a result of the new Tetra digital mobile radio system in garda stations. The new system has caused this widespread disruption to households," he said.

"Comreg has issued a public information bulletin on the matter. There is anger and exasperation at this development which came without any warning. To add insult to injury, the Comreg bulletin places the onus on householders to rectify the problem themselves with technical adjustments to their TV reception equipment which can cost up to €250 to purchase and install."

He added that, while the force needed a new communications system, there had been "no consideration" for its effect on the thousands of households in the vicinity of garda stations where Tetra base stations are installed. "I am advised, though this is unconfirmed, that such was the disruption caused in the town of Emyvale, Co Monaghan, over Christmas that gardaí at the local station turned off the Tetra system so that people's TV reception would be restored. Obviously that is no long-term solution," he added.