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€22k works as St Oliver’s prepares to reopen




By Michelle Crean

Works to the tune of €22,000 including colour coded areas for children, over 80 hand sanitiser units, a marquee for dropping off children and new electronic doors are all part of the changes at St Oliver's National School.

Principal Rory Darcy this week said that with 714 pupils and between 28 and 30 pupils per class, there's a lot of work going on in the background to ensure social distancing can be met as per the Department's guidelines for when the school reopens next month.

They also have a pre-school with 103 children in attendance.

And although children from Third Class up are advised to socially distance one metre away from each other, he says it's going to be their biggest challenge.

"With the one metre issue, it's very difficult to work. You can't stay one metre away. One metre apart is not going to be possible, that's a worry and a concern. We will have to look at face visors and masks," Rory told the Killarney Advertiser this week.

A big school, reworking the space to try and allow the recommended distance is underway.
"Every available space will be used. Our hall is now a classroom with partition walls going up. This hall was used seven days a week for the gym, speech and drama and choir, that's all gone now."

The expected return date is August 31 and when children return parents are advised to drop them off at the marquee at the courtyard where teachers and SNAs will greet them and bring the pupils in through their various colour coded areas.

"The school is divided up into six pods all colour coded. For instance Junior Infants will be colour coded red and Senior Infants blue. They will follow the coloured line into the school. We've installed four sets of double doors with fob key entry. Each class is like a family and that class then only have a teacher, SNA and support teacher where possible. There'll be three different break times and they will only play with their own class."

He added that they'll be sending out a video explaining the new procedures before they return.

"The children might be nervous in the days before they return so we'll send them a video message to welcome them back."

The Killarney area has a panel of substitute teachers ready for any absences, he added.

Cleaning will also be a priority, including everyone pulling together to keep the school as sanitised as possible. Door handles have been changed costing €4,000. Contract cleaners will now come daily as opposed to every second day and doors to classrooms will be locked each evening.

Aside from the funds to get the school ready for reopening, €55,000 has been spent on new secutiy measures which were already planned for, he added.

"We don't have all the answers, we're doing the best we can. Everyone will need to be patient."



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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