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12 to 15 year-olds to be offered COVID vaccine

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The Government has today (Tuesday) announced that those aged 12-15 years-old will be offered an mRNA vaccine.

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, confirmed that, based on advice received by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), those in this age group will be offered an mRNA.

To date, two mRNA vaccines have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use in this age group - Comirnaty® (Pfizer/BioNTech) and Spikevax® (Moderna). During clinical trials the estimate for efficacy of both vaccines was reported as one hundred percent in these age groups.

“I am delighted to be in a position to confirm that our young people will be offered an opportunity to protect themselves from COVID-19," Minister Donnelly said.

"Yesterday, I announced that the vaccine registration portal was opening to all those aged 16 and 17 years-old and today’s announcement is an important step in offering that same protection to our younger population. We are continuing to see an increase in cases of COVID-19 among our young people and vaccination, along with continued adherence to the public health advice, remains the best protection we can offer in terms of reducing the risk of severe disease, maintaining access to educational opportunities and the range of social activities that we are all so conscious this age group in particular have lost due to this pandemic. Support for parents and young people will be made available to help them make the best decision for them.

“The outstanding progress of our COVID-19 vaccination programme is making continues. To date, we have administered 5.55 million doses. This has resulted in a marked reduction in levels of severe disease and hospitalisation and enabled us to continue with the safe re-opening of Irish society.”

COVAX

Minister Donnelly also confirmed that the Department of Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs are engaging on matters relating to the donation of COVID-19 vaccine which, in the short to medium term at least, will not be required in Ireland.

“Ireland’s involvement in COVAX is further evidence of the strong sense of global solidarity that all Irish people feel and is an extension of the ongoing international support we have offered to countries suffering from the impact of COVID-19. Ireland is committed to the global coordinated effort to foster equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“While addressing the needs of our own population, we must also meet, our international humanitarian responsibilities. Since Ireland’s Vaccination Programme began late last year, the principles of moral equality, fairness and solidarity have been our guiding light. Ireland’s involvement in the international COVAX effort is a natural extension of that objective.”

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Musician Liam O’Connor back and busier than ever

By Sean Moriarty Local musician Liam O’Connor has gone from zero to hero following the lifting on the ban on live music as a result of pandemic restrictions. On Saturday he played his first gig in over 18 months, next Friday he will release a new single, and before that he will play a special gig […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Local musician Liam O’Connor has gone from zero to hero following the lifting on the ban on live music as a result of pandemic restrictions.

On Saturday he played his first gig in over 18 months, next Friday he will release a new single, and before that he will play a special gig in London.

Liam and his family played at the Kerry County Council organised ‘ANSEO’ concert in North Kerry that was run to coincide with the Listowel Harvest Festival last weekend.

It was his first live show since he played at St Brendan’s College, Killarney when he shared the stage with special guest, former Irish rugby coach, Joe Schmidt. That event took place on March 11, 2020, the night before the country entered its first COVID-19 lockdown.

The ‘ANSEO’ series of concerts signalled the return of live music in Kerry and the O’Connor family shared the stage with other local musicians like Tim O’Shea and his Afro Trad Ireland group.

“People were delighted, they were mad for it, they were obviously missing it,” Liam told the Killarney Advertiser. “But they are not letting go just yet, they are still a bit hesitant.”

This Sunday Liam heads to London were he will help Dan Tim O’Sullivan steer sheep over Southwark Bridge (see page 36 for more on this story).

To cap an exceptionally busy period for the local accordion player, he has joined forces with Moya Brennan of Clannad fame. Brennan and O’Connor will release a new single – ‘Strong in Numbers’ on Friday next, October 1.

They previously performed together at a concert in the Friary in 2017.

“It was such a positive experience for all of us we just had to repeat it,” he added. “So not only have we done this recording of ‘Strong in Numbers’ but we are planning to do the Friary again later this year. After that, I wouldn’t rule anything out.”

Meanwhile, the ‘ANSEO’ series visits Killarney on Sunday night.

The Fair Hill car park will host two shows featuring: The Gleneagle Concert Band; Pauline Scanlon with Mick Galvin; The Small Hours; The Rising; Cathal Flaherty and Truly Diverse.

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Coach operators plead for Government aid in budget

By Sean Moriarty   A Killarney tour operator has called for the Government to provide further financial aid for the industry in light of an uncertain 2022 season. He described to an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sports and Media on Wednesday how a coach with just two American tourists and two staff […]

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By Sean Moriarty
 

A Killarney tour operator has called for the Government to provide further financial aid for the industry in light of an uncertain 2022 season.

He described to an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sports and Media on Wednesday how a coach with just two American tourists and two staff is currently touring Ireland.

Representatives from the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC) including Mike Buckley of Kerry Coaches, were invited to outline the detrimental impact COVID-19 has had on the coach tour industry.

Mr Buckley said he and his industry colleagues were desperate to highlight that Ireland was open for business and that the empty coach was an attempt by tour operators to prove how far they are willing to go to get this message out there.

“There is a reticence by people who travel in large numbers, people are not buying,” he told the meeting.

“There is anecdotal evidence that one coach operator is touring Ireland with two passengers, a driver and a tour guide.”

Mr Buckley said he was grateful for the previous support the industry had received but that funding stems back to the summer of 2020 and they were not included in the July 2021 round of funding.

That money was put towards existing loans on buses and coaches and has now dried up.

“It was like putting a bandage over a major bleed or haemorrhage,” he added.

The CTTC said that the coach industry contributed €215 million to the economy in 2019, the last year full figures are available for.

“Shops, cafes, hotels, attractions are hugely dependent on coach tours,” he added.

Kerry Coaches, in peak times, employ up to 114 drivers and tour guides.

“We are down to a skeleton staff,” he added.

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