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“Reopening schools is good for all concerned” – says Education Minister



“There’s a huge body of work to be done by schools before they reopen next month," the newly appointed Minister for Education said when she spoke exclusively to the Killarney Advertiser this week.

By Michelle Crean

Norma Foley, TD, who is currently head of one of the busiest Government departments, this week announced a €376 million fund for the ‘Reopening Our Schools – The Roadmap for the Full Return to School’ to help schools navigate the complexities of reopening next month following the abrupt shutdown in March.

And as schools get to grips with the new guidelines and begin to implement the necessary changes to safely bring children back into education, she said that there’s “a shared objective to fully reopen schools”.

Guidelines include children in primary and secondary schools being placed in ‘bubbles’ and pods meaning they’ll be placed in smaller groups and have to stay within this to minimise any potential spread of the virus, cleaning budgets have been approved as well as the addition of 1,080 additional teachers and 120 Guidance Counsellors.

“The funding has been broadly welcomed,” Minister Foley told the Killarney Advertiser.

“There’s a huge body of work to be done and all funding supports are available to schools.”


On Monday evening, the Department of Education announced that it is providing capital and current funding of over €376 million to support the safe and sustainable reopening of schools.

The package includes an additional 1,080 teaching posts at post-primary level at a cost of €53 million, to include 120 guidance posts to support student well-being, an initial allocation of over 600 posts to be made available to post-primary schools and remaining posts will be used to support post-primary schools experiencing particular difficulties to reopen fully and adhere to physical distancing and class sizes.

Additional funding of an estimated €84.7 million has been given so schools can employ replacement teaching staff, SNA and administrative staff. Funding of €41.2 million to provide primary schools with substitute staff, €40m to provide post-primary schools with additional supervision of students, an additional €52 million for schools to put in place enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools is being provided on a per-pupil basis and is intended to allow an additional four to six hours cleaning per day in schools.

The fund will also provide all teaching principals at primary level with a minimum of one release day per week to relieve the administrative burden arising from the changes, the impacts of COVID-19 and a new measure to provide deputy principals with some release days, ranging from five days to 16 days depending on the school size, to support administrative principals.

A €75 million capital allocation has been given to support schools to prepare buildings and classrooms for reopening, €4.2 million to enable schools to employ an aide to implement the logistical changes needed in schools – moving furniture, changing classroom layouts, set up hand sanitising stations, signage etc., and €3.8m to provide release time for each school to have a lead worker representative, whose role is to support the school to manage the risk of COVID-19 infections.


The Minister said it is a comprehensive plan for the year ahead which she has worked on with the relevant stakeholders from parents to students, principals, teachers, SNAs and boards of management.

“It’s so important that all are included. There’s a shared objective that the schools will fully reopen and this was discussed. There’s a short window of everything that needs to be done.“

And, she added that there’s a particular emphasis being placed on well-being for the coming year.

“There’s a very definite curriculum being advised for individual responsibility, class responsibility, and whole school responses for students.“

She added that she’s “honoured to be in a position to make a contribution” to the safe return for students and staff across the country but emphasised that “it’s a team effort”.

“Wider society wants to see the schools reopen for the children and young people that there would a be a safe return. It’s good for all concerned. The goodwill and the finance is there for it.”



Muckross Rowing Club members on Irish teams for two major regattas

  Six members of Muckross Rowing Club will compete for Ireland in two upcoming international events. Rowing Ireland this week announced the Irish squads for the Coupe de la Jeunesse […]





Six members of Muckross Rowing Club will compete for Ireland in two upcoming international events.

Rowing Ireland this week announced the Irish squads for the Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta.

Daniel Fleming and Ian Coffey have both been selected for the Under 19 Irish squad to race at the Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta for European junior rowers. The Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta, involving 16 European countries, will be held over from over three days, August 9-11 in Racice, Czechia.

Four Under 23 university rowers from the Muckross club have also been selected as part of the Senior Irish squad for the Home International Regatta this month.

Niamh Coffey (University of Limerick), Patrick Buckley (University of Limerick), Finn O’Sullivan (University of Limerick) and Ethan O’Neill (University College Cork Rowing Club) will take on the ‘Triple Crown’ event of rowing, competing for Ireland against crews from England, Scotland and Wales.

The Home International Regatta will be held on Saturday, July 27 in Strathclyde, Scotland.

All six Muckross rowers have earned their green jerseys following a lengthy and testing trial series on land and water which began in Autumn 2023 and culminated in final water trials at the end of June.

“Muckross Rowing Club sends its best wishes to the very talented Muckross oarsmen and women and all their crewmates as they fly the flag for Ireland this summer. The talented group build on a successful record in the sport,” said club PRO Tim O’Shea.

Niamh Coffey is a multiple Irish and University Championship winner and has previously represented Ireland in the Under 23 European Championships.

In 2022, O’Neill rowed at Junior level at the Home International event and won a gold medal as part of the Irish quadruple scull crew in the 500m sprint event.

Both Buckley and O’Sullivan continue to compete at the highest level nationally with the University of Limerick Rowing Club,  and join the Irish squad for the first time this year.

The international selections come at an exciting time before the Olympic Regatta in Paris, where Zoe Hyde (Tralee Rowing Club) will be among the largest Irish rowing contingent of 16 rowers to contest an Olympic Games.

Killorglin native Zoe has previously rowed for both Killorglin and Muckross rowing clubs and will race the Women’s Double event for Ireland with Alison Bergin (Fermoy Rowing Club) in Paris.


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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally



Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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