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Kerry holds ceremony of reflection and remembrance

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A ceremony was held in Tralee on Sunday morning to remember those who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic and to acknowledge the role of individuals and organisations in responding to the crisis over the past two years.

The Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council, Cllr Jimmy Moloney led the ceremony at the Ashe Memorial Hall on Denny Street, which was attended by a wide range of statutory and community organisations involved in dealing with the pandemic over since March 2020. Cllr Moloney laid a wreath in memory of the over 120 Kerry people who have died.

“The grief of those who lost loved ones was compounded by the absence of that most Irish of customs – the sharing of sympathy at funerals. Instead, so many were faced with closed churches, closed funeral homes and closed coffins. Today we stand in solidarity and sympathy with all of them,” he said.

“The toll on so many others remains – be that in terms of physical health or mental health which was so impacted by limitations on normal human activity. Those challenges continue for so many of our citizens.

“But Kerry came together as Kerry always does. If there is any positive to be taken from these dreadful times, it is the extraordinary community spirit and resilience shown by our people at a time of such adversity. In remarkable ways, the people of Kerry and the community and voluntary groups came together to respond, to be proactive and to show support. As Kerry’s first citizen, I say thank you, on behalf of the people of Kerry for all you that you have done and continue to do.”

The event was addressed by representatives of the HSE, An Garda Síochána, and business and community organisations. The flag at the Ashe Memorial Hall was lowered to half mast in memory of those who died and in tribute to those who continue to suffer the effects of the pandemic.

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Killarney hotels are still open for business

By Sean Moriarty Only a few of the town’s 37 hotels are homing displaced people – according to Bernadette Randles, chair of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotel Federation. […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Only a few of the town’s 37 hotels are homing displaced people – according to Bernadette Randles, chair of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotel Federation.

This week she said that there’s still accommodation to be found in Killarney for visitors.

She was speaking in relation to the current accommodation situation facing International Protection Applicants and Ukrainian war refugees.

She explained that there is a perception that Killarney has taken in too many refugees and that it is putting the tourism industry at risk as people are starting to think that the town is at full capacity.

“If you can’t get a room in Killarney there is something wrong,” she said. “Maybe with the exception of New Year’s Eve.”

She added that hotels that are providing emergency accommodation are helping off-season unemployment.

Many hotels remain in survival mode after two years of pandemic turmoil and the additional off season business is important, she explained.

“Many could be closed at this time of the year, others would not be operating at full capacity,” she added.

However, she warned the Government needs to put a plan in place before the tourism season starts next year. Some hotels offering emergency accommodation either have a three or six month contract.

“I can see there will be tears next April – the Government must have a long-term plan,” she said.

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Homing refugees worth almost €14m

By Sean Moriarty Hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation suppliers in the Killarney area have secured contracts in excess of €13 million to accommodate Ukraine war refugees. The Department of Children, […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation suppliers in the Killarney area have secured contracts in excess of €13 million to accommodate Ukraine war refugees.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth released figures to the Killarney Advertiser.

Documents show that contracts totalling €13,852,255.00 are being shared between 13 premises in the Killarney urban area.

However, the department warned these figures are “indicative” only and the full value of the contracts depends on “occupancy and actual usage”.

The Eviston Hotel has secured a contract worth €5,727,590.00, the Innisfallen Hotel in Fossa for €2,404,620.00 and The Hotel Killarney signed a deal worth €1,701,000.00. These are the three biggest contracts published in the documentation.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, and Department officials say more contracts could come on stream. Figures seen by the Killarney Advertiser only cover contracted premises up to the end of September this year and updated figures are only released every three months.

“We are in contract with far more, but the formal exchange of contracts can take place sometime after the service commences,” a department spokesperson told the Killarney Advertiser.

“The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is obliged to publish a list of contracts formally signed off each quarter that have been awarded under a special EU Derogation that permits the Department to enter into contracts in the context of the Ukraine accommodation crisis without going to formal tender.

“The values of the contracts shown are estimates; the actual value materialises upon occupancy and actual usage. Standard contracts have no-fault break clauses available to both parties so again, the figures are indicative rather than actual.”

These figures only cover Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war and do not include International Protection Applicants.

The Department refused to release International Protection Applicant figures to the Killarney Advertiser.

“The International Protection Applicant accommodation contract information is commercially sensitive information and is not available,” added the Department spokesperson.

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