That’s Pirate Radio Part 10 – The 1983 Raids

June 18, 2007 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

In 1983 the Irish airwaves were awash with over fifty pirates as the new Fine Gael Labour Government settled into power. Then Chris Cary at Nova imported a powerful transmitter to broadcast into the UK market. This proved too much for Jim ‘Fixer’ Mitchell, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. >>>

The Raids

In May 1983 the police raided Nova and Sunshine, forcing both to close down. The Nova closedown was emotional, after an afternoon of encouraging listeners to gather outside to show their support. As the station went off air at 6 p.m. on 19 May, crowds chanted for Nova and drivers blared car horns around the city.

Over half a million pounds worth of equipment was seized in the raids. Many other pirates took the hint and shut down. Radio Dublin was one of the few that stayed open.

The Protests

Thousands of listeners took to the streets—or, as one alarmed TD melodramatically put it, ‘it went to such an extreme that parents permitted their teenage sons and daughters to take to the streets in protest’—with one huge banner reading ‘Don’t Take My Sunshine Away’.

The rattled Minister relented, the pirates returned, the raids stopped, and the country’s parents presumably withdrew their permission for any future street protests by teenagers.

When the cases came to court, both stations were given appropriately punitive fines—£25 for Nova; £20 for Sunshine, with seven days to pay—and got their equipment back.

Michael Barrett

My local Fianna Fáil TD in Dublin North West, the ultra-conservative multiple-Mass-attending Michael Barrett, was an unlikely supporter of the pirate protest.

He believed that RTE was ‘anti-Irish’ because it broadcast the Sunday Miscellany show—‘to my mind that is the most diabolical programme’, he explained—instead of Irish music, thus causing ‘people like Val Doonican’ to have to emigrate.

When he was warned that the pirates’ signals were interfering with essential services, Barrett sagely countered that in Dublin North West, ‘Radio 2 was interfering with the microphones in the church.’

Next Post in Series: We’re Jamming
Previous Post in Series: Nova Northside

First Post in Series: Radio Dublin 253

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Entry filed under: Culture, Politics.

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A blog by Michael Nugent

Welcome to my blog about living in the maddest country on earth. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohemians football club in the 1970s.

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Bionic Bohs

As mentioned above, if you like Irish football and/or cultural nostalgia, I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohs in the 1970s.

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