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Abbie reflects on Strasbourg experience




Fifth Year St Brigid's student Abbie O'Sullivan, winner of the Rotary Youth Leadership Competition, has returned from an exciting trip to Strasbourg.

TRIP: Killarney student Abbie O'Sullivan reflects on her exciting trip to Strasbourg.

This week she shares her thoughts about the experience.

"In February I had the privilege of attending the European Parliament in Strasbourg as a winner of the Rotary Youth Leadership Competition. It was a trip that could not be defined by words. It expanded my knowledge, taught me new things about myself and others, and helped me create life-long bonds with people all over the country and across Europe. I entered this competition through my school and took part in three different interview sessions. I was asked about my own position in leadership, my opinions on topical issues both local and national and got to present myself professionally to the Killarney Rotary Club. My finals took place in Cork city where I was awarded this trip of a lifetime, representing The Rotary Club. I was over the moon wondering what experiences, friends and stories I would take from this trip and now as I reflect on it, the reality was beyond my expectations.

"I arrived in Belfast and met the 23 other winners of the award. Immediately, we became attached at the hip rushing to dinner together and enjoying the first night of this amazing trip by getting to know one another. We spent the following day in Belfast and then Dublin, first visiting city hall and having a private luncheon and conversation with the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Tina Black. She taught us about her position as both a woman in politics and also her position in Northern Ireland. We then visited Stormont. We had a guided tour there and spoke with three MLAs and had the opportunity to ask them questions. The day ended by taking a bus to Dublin and spending the evening laughing and learning together as we prepared for our event in Strasbourg. Our day in Dublin consisted of two major events; firstly, we visited Europe House. Here we learned about all the facilities and opportunities available to us in the European Union and shared our thoughts on current issues. In my opinion, this trip taught us how to work and converse as adults whilst also have as much fun as possible with our peers! We received our official certificates and then went to the Dáil for our second tour of State Governments. The night concluded with a 3am wake up call to board a flight to Frankfurt.

"We drove to Strasbourg from Germany and settled into our hostel, which we shared with over 500 other students attending the Parliament. That night we were given free time to explore so we organised a self-guided walking tour to make the most of our time! The Rotarian leaders must have been exhausted, just as we were, but none of us were going to let this opportunity slip away. The next day was the big event called Euroscola. At this event, Ireland, along with all other EU Member States, sat in the official Parliament hemisphere and debated the EU Zero Pollution Ambition. Having a huge interest in politics, this was the big moment of the trip for me. When I sat down in the parliament and was able to speak and share my opinion, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of accomplishment, and it is something I could never have experienced without the Rotary Club and the Youth Leadership Award.

"The next day was time for us to spend our last day together and experience the city of Strasbourg even more. Our return to Dublin Airport was full of hugs, tears and laughs. Thankfully, the 24 of us have stayed in touch and are hopefully working on another project to promote this very competition. This trip truly was an amazing experience, and I cannot recommend it enough to any young person in Killarney."

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Developing St Finan’s “cost prohibitive” – Council

Converting the idle St Finan’s hospital into social housing is cost-prohibitive according to Kerry County council officials. The historic building has been lying idle since it closed in September 2012. […]




Converting the idle St Finan’s hospital into social housing is cost-prohibitive according to Kerry County council officials.

The historic building has been lying idle since it closed in September 2012.

The hospital and adjoining lands are up for sale by the Health Service Executive (HSE) since then.

So far no realistic offer has been made on the site despite suggestions that it could be used for social housing, a catering college and a hotel.

Each year the building, which was built in the 1850s, falls into further disrepair.

There were fresh calls again this week as local councillors called for some sort of action to redevelop the site that is fast becoming an eyesore.

At last Friday’s Killarney Municipal District meeting councillors called for action at the site .

Mayor Brendan Cronin wants the building’s protected status to be removed or at least reduced to speed up potential development work which ties in with Cllr Marie Moloney’s idea that the old hospital could be converted into apartments or flats.

Cllr John O’Donoghue wants the HSE to find a way to hand over the property to Kerry County Council either by way of reduced payment or an intra-government agency ownership change.

A Kerry County Council official told the meeting that any works to potentially convert the old hospital into social housing “would be cost prohibitive.”


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Eight month wait for a driving test in Killarney

A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at […]




A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney

The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at eight months.

Cllr John O’Donoghue raised the issue at Monday’s full meeting of Kerry County Council.

He proposed that driving instructors should be employed to carry out the final test to reduce the current backlog.

At Monday’s meeting he asked that hat Kerry County Council would write to the Minister for Transport to ask him to consider giving driving instructors temporary powers to issue a temporary Driving Licence/Certificate of Competence to those on the waiting list for tests.

“The wait is currently far too long and the system is in danger of becoming completely overwhelmed,” he said.

“The huge waiting list for young drivers is well documented at this stage. In a case I am familiar with, a young person passed their theory test in January 2022 and he immediately applied for his mandatory 12 driving lessons. When these were completed, he applied for his driving test on the 2nd of December 2022. Some weeks ago, he still had not received an application to apply for his driving test. This wait is placing him and his family under considerable extra cost and stress which is completely unacceptable.”

In the course of his research into the matter Cllr O’Donoghue discovered that the next available date for a driving test in Killarney is May 25, 2024, while Tralee is June 3 2024.

“Bear in mind, these are only the dates on which you receive an invitation to book your test, the test itself will then be an estimated three to five weeks later.

“This is an appalling situation and one which needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency. I am proposing that driving instructors, which presumably are fully trained up on the rules of the road, be granted temporary powers to be allowed to issue temporary driving licences to young people. When the waiting list time has been reduced, I would still propose that these people sit the test as usual, but the current pressure needs to be alleviated as soon as possible. There is precedent as I believe that in the 1970s, a cohort in this country were issued driving licences without having sat a test as the wait time for the test was too long.”


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