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Second lockdown ahead if house parties continue – says Cllr

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By Michelle Crean

A Killarney councillor has this week lashed out saying that the amount of private house parties in town is a major cause for concern - as COVID cases locally have begun to spike.

Cllr Donal Grady says he fears a second lockdown as he has witnessed parties in a number of housing estates and says people are getting complacent everywhere especially in shops and when it comes to washing their hands.

He says that he’s hugely worried that a second wave is just weeks away - especially if the parties continue due to the Government's decision to delay Phase 4 - resulting in pubs and nightclubs now not reopening until August 10. He is again calling for the Government to halt travel for people coming to Kerry from other counties.

"We should isolate Dublin from the rest of the country for a while. They'd do it if it were the other way around. They have over 12,500 cases compared to Kerry with over 300 - how can you compare the two figures?"

The seasoned councillor made his views known after it became public earlier this week that young holidaymakers who travelled to the town for a break had the highly infectious disease.

“We must cop on. Complacency has set in in a big way,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “If we don’t get our act together we’re heading for a second lockdown. The washing of the hands has been forgotten about. We’re falling behind.”

As of yesterday evening (Thursday) there was one death reported nationally and 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 bringing a total of 25,698 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.

In Kerry there were no extra reported cases yesterday, following two confirmed cases on Wednesday and three on Tuesday by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

The Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, this week confirmed the “large” cluster in Kerry but he said many of those involved are located elsewhere in the country.

“People in Kerry do not need to worry unduly, certainly based on the numbers, but I know that a cluster has been well publicised in that setting,” he said. “We’ve had clusters in many counties around the country and our public health teams are on top of those and they are identifying the cases. I’m not saying that people in Killarney, which has been mentioned in the media, do not need to be vigilant – they do. People everywhere need to be vigilant as, again, we are talking about a disease that can spread when people are well.”

In response to the outbreak of the Killarney cases over the past week the HSE said that they cannot comment on any individual case.

However, it said that the Department can confirm there have been a small number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region in recent weeks.
“In all cases, anyone deemed to be a close contact has been identified and contacted quickly. Although we cannot comment on any individual case, we are confident that correct procedures have been followed in the management of all cases notified to the Department to date.

Close contacts are offered two tests for COVID-19. They are tested again seven days after their initial test.”

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Musician Liam O’Connor back and busier than ever

By Sean Moriarty Local musician Liam O’Connor has gone from zero to hero following the lifting on the ban on live music as a result of pandemic restrictions. On Saturday he played his first gig in over 18 months, next Friday he will release a new single, and before that he will play a special gig […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Local musician Liam O’Connor has gone from zero to hero following the lifting on the ban on live music as a result of pandemic restrictions.

On Saturday he played his first gig in over 18 months, next Friday he will release a new single, and before that he will play a special gig in London.

Liam and his family played at the Kerry County Council organised ‘ANSEO’ concert in North Kerry that was run to coincide with the Listowel Harvest Festival last weekend.

It was his first live show since he played at St Brendan’s College, Killarney when he shared the stage with special guest, former Irish rugby coach, Joe Schmidt. That event took place on March 11, 2020, the night before the country entered its first COVID-19 lockdown.

The ‘ANSEO’ series of concerts signalled the return of live music in Kerry and the O’Connor family shared the stage with other local musicians like Tim O’Shea and his Afro Trad Ireland group.

“People were delighted, they were mad for it, they were obviously missing it,” Liam told the Killarney Advertiser. “But they are not letting go just yet, they are still a bit hesitant.”

This Sunday Liam heads to London were he will help Dan Tim O’Sullivan steer sheep over Southwark Bridge (see page 36 for more on this story).

To cap an exceptionally busy period for the local accordion player, he has joined forces with Moya Brennan of Clannad fame. Brennan and O’Connor will release a new single – ‘Strong in Numbers’ on Friday next, October 1.

They previously performed together at a concert in the Friary in 2017.

“It was such a positive experience for all of us we just had to repeat it,” he added. “So not only have we done this recording of ‘Strong in Numbers’ but we are planning to do the Friary again later this year. After that, I wouldn’t rule anything out.”

Meanwhile, the ‘ANSEO’ series visits Killarney on Sunday night.

The Fair Hill car park will host two shows featuring: The Gleneagle Concert Band; Pauline Scanlon with Mick Galvin; The Small Hours; The Rising; Cathal Flaherty and Truly Diverse.

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Coach operators plead for Government aid in budget

By Sean Moriarty   A Killarney tour operator has called for the Government to provide further financial aid for the industry in light of an uncertain 2022 season. He described to an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sports and Media on Wednesday how a coach with just two American tourists and two staff […]

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By Sean Moriarty
 

A Killarney tour operator has called for the Government to provide further financial aid for the industry in light of an uncertain 2022 season.

He described to an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sports and Media on Wednesday how a coach with just two American tourists and two staff is currently touring Ireland.

Representatives from the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC) including Mike Buckley of Kerry Coaches, were invited to outline the detrimental impact COVID-19 has had on the coach tour industry.

Mr Buckley said he and his industry colleagues were desperate to highlight that Ireland was open for business and that the empty coach was an attempt by tour operators to prove how far they are willing to go to get this message out there.

“There is a reticence by people who travel in large numbers, people are not buying,” he told the meeting.

“There is anecdotal evidence that one coach operator is touring Ireland with two passengers, a driver and a tour guide.”

Mr Buckley said he was grateful for the previous support the industry had received but that funding stems back to the summer of 2020 and they were not included in the July 2021 round of funding.

That money was put towards existing loans on buses and coaches and has now dried up.

“It was like putting a bandage over a major bleed or haemorrhage,” he added.

The CTTC said that the coach industry contributed €215 million to the economy in 2019, the last year full figures are available for.

“Shops, cafes, hotels, attractions are hugely dependent on coach tours,” he added.

Kerry Coaches, in peak times, employ up to 114 drivers and tour guides.

“We are down to a skeleton staff,” he added.

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