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A South Kerry welcome for people from Ukraine




Staff and students at a South Kerry school welcomed a visit from the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland, Her Excellency Larysa Gerasko, on Monday.

TREE PLANTING: Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland Her Excellency Larysa Gerasko with Minister for Education Norma Foley Maurice Fitzgerald (Principal) Jim Finucane (Chairman Kerry ETB) and Norma Moriarty (Chairperson Board of Management) planting a Willow tree at Colaiste na Sceilige Cahersiveen on Monday to mark her school visit. Photo: Don MacMonagle

VISIT: Ukrainian students Solohub Alexiia and Solohub Cmiteo from Mariupol pictured with Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland Her Excellency Larysa Gerasko and Minister for Education Norma Foley at Colaiste na Sceilige Cahersiveen on Monday during a school visit. Photo: Don MacMonagle

The Ambassador’s visit to Coláiste Na Sceilge in Cahersiveen followed an invitation sent by Kerry Education and Training Board (KETB) earlier in the month.

The Ambassador was accompanied on her visit by Minister for Education and Kerry TD, Norma Foley.
The organisation invited the Ambassador to South Kerry, particularly due to the significant number of Ukrainians welcomed by the local community in recent weeks.

According to Department of Education figures, over 550 Ukrainian students have been enrolled in Kerry-based schools, with Kerry being one of the most popular county destinations after Dublin.

Kerry ETB School, Coláiste Na Sceilge, has welcomed 34 students.

“I am extremely proud of how our school communities in Kerry have so warmly welcomed students from Ukraine," Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, said.

"There has always been a tradition in our schools of welcoming children and young people from any part of the world, and we stand now in solidarity with the people of Ukraine in this terrible time for their country.

“I would like to thank all the members of our school communities for making the students and their families so welcome. I would also like to thank Kerry ETB for its work in the Regional Education And Language Teams (REALT) that we have now established across all 16 ETBs. They play a vital role in ensuring access for students to education.”

Speaking at the event, School Principal Maurice Fitzgerald said: “As a Kerry ETB school, our ethos is informed by the core values of respect, care, equality, community and excellence. True to our ethos and values, we welcome the Ukrainian community to Coláiste Na Sceilge, and it is our hope and expectation that they will grow and flourish during their time with us.”

The Department of Education assigned Kerry ETB responsibility to coordinate the multi-agency Kerry Regional Education and Language Team (REALT) as part of the Irish Government’s Ukrainian Response.

The organisation has been working with Ukrainian families arriving in the county, endeavouring to support them at this time of great difficulty.

Kerry ETB delivers primary, post-primary and Further Education and Training (FET) to students and learners of all ages across the county – including local facilities Coláiste Na Sceilge, O’Connell FET Centre, Tech Amergin FET Centre, Killorglin ABE and Killorglin VTOS.

“The people of Kerry have wholeheartedly supported this effort, and I am remarkably proud to be here today to experience first-hand our shared response,” Chairperson of the Kerry ETB Board, Councillor Jim Finucane, said during the visit.

During her visit, Ambassador Larysa Gerasko met with Ukrainian students, their families and the supportive community. The Coláiste Na Sceilge Student Council also invited the Ambassador to plant a Willow tree on the grounds – a symbol of hope, a sense of belonging, and safety. Furthermore, the ability to let go of the pain and suffering to grow new, strong and bold.

At the event, Colm Mc Evoy, Kerry ETB Chief Executive Officer, said: “I want to thank the Ambassador for visiting Coláiste Na Sceilge today to meet with our Ukrainian students and their families. Today brings a real focus to our work assisting people from Ukraine.”

The event was attended by the local community and stakeholders, including local primary schools and the Cahersiveen Interagency Forum, a forum led by the South Kerry Development Partnership, whose response to the crisis has been nothing short of phenomenal. Also in attendance was Kerry Council County Chief Executive Moira Murrell, who chairs the weekly meetings of the county's Ukrainian Interagency Community Response Forum.



Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes



Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.

The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.

Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.

The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.

“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.


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Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate



By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

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