By Helen Riddell
COMMUNITY organisations from around Europe will travel to Bere Island this week to participate in a three-day conference on bringing community radio to remote areas.
The event will also see Bere Island finalise plans to transmit their first live radio broadcast.
Bere Island Projects Group are one of the partners in the EU funded Grassroots Wavelength Projects which aims to set up and study low-power community radio stations in a number communities in Europe which include rural Romania, Portugal, Madeira and Bere Island.
Grassroots Wavelengths is based on technology which has already been tested in Uganda, and allows for radio content to be created and broadcast in a very simple manner, using mobile phones and low-power radio transmitters that work on a very small radius.
Bere Island Projects Group was recently awarded a temporary broadcast licence form the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, which projects officer John Walsh says will allow the community to broadcast for two hours every Sunday.
‘The transmitting equipment is being shipped to us at the moment and we are planning to do our first live broadcast in February. It’s a great project for Bere Island to be involved in, and this will benefit, not just the island community, but the whole of Beara and the Bere Island diaspora,’ he said. Bere Island Projects Group launched the project last August with a two-hour broadcast over the internet, which says John was a huge success. ‘We featured interviews with islanders, a local historian and the Bere Island GAA Club,’ he said.
The island community has also held two days of radio training sessions with the Community Radio Forum of Ireland, which a number of islanders took part in, and they are working on plans to involve the island’s youth with proposed programme content from the Bere Island National School and transition year students in Beara Community School.
Among the groups visiting Bere Island this week are the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute; Active Watch, a community development organisation in Bucharest; Adenorma, a community development organisation in Madeira, and academics from University College Cork who are monitoring the benefits of the project.
The groups will have the opportunity to meet with the islanders and discover, first hand, the steps Bere islanders have gone through to set up the station.
‘There’s a huge potential for this project,’ added John, ‘not just for Bere Island but for other islands and rural communities throughout Ireland.’