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New charity to help preserve dignity



HELPING OTHERS: Etain Usher (Tralee Food Aid) with Martina O'Riordan from Killarney who has set up Dignity Packs Kerry to help those in need. Photo: Michelle Crean


By Michelle Crean

A brand new charitable service has been set up by a Killarney woman to help those in financial dire straits retain their dignity.

Dignity Packs Kerry, which aims to supply free toiletries to people in need,was founded by Martina O'Riordan three weeks ago to give hygiene supplies to those who can’t afford life’s basics.

Now she’s hoping it will become a countywide initiative and she’s looking for others to come on board to help.

Martina became involved through Etain Usher from Tralee Food Aid, who runs a service that donates food to families and individuals. Etain suggested setting up the service and as Martina wanted to help others she jumped at the chance.

She’s asking locals to donate items such as shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, shower gels, razors and shaving foam, face cloths, soap, sanitary towels and Tampons, toothbrushes and toothpaste, wet wipes and nappy sacks, which can be dropped into special collection bins at the various collection points in town.

She explained that the items donated will be placed in plain brown paper bags and dropped into emergency accommodation centres, Meals on Wheels and schools.

“Etain asked if I’d like to branch into this and I set up a Facebook page three weeks ago,” Martina told the Killarney Advertiser this week.

“It was friends and family helping at first but it’s growing.”

Tesco Ireland, who also support Tralee Food Aid, have come on board and Martina plans to put collection bins in the New Street store in the coming days. She’s also hoping businesses could sponsor buying plain paper bags, collection bins for other locations, or allow bins to be placed in their stores. Volunteers are also welcome to help, she added.

“It’s not just for people in emergency accommodation,” Martina said.

“It’s the ones with high mortgages that don’t have the extra funds for the basics. We don’t want to know who is getting them. We’ll get them out there to the people who need them through the centres.”

She added that if she met Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that she’d ask him to meet people who are still living in poverty.
“I’d like him to meet these people and realise that there’s a whole country here that needs help. He needs to see what others are going through outside of Dublin. If we don’t do it who will? They’re not going to do it.”

To donate or to enquire about sponsoring a collection bin, signage or bags, contact Martina O'Riordan on 085 1167173, via email: or on Facebook: Dignity Packs Kerry.



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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