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Teens get €1,500 to progress positive projects




By Michelle Crean

It was no easy task walking in to a Dragons' Den style set up - but by doing that Killarney teens received funds for their projects.

WINNING WITH WOMEN: Young Social Innovators from St Brigid's School took part in the YSI Dragons' Den on Thursday last. The Winning With Women group includes: Caoilfhionn Doyle Sophie Moran and Aoibhín Kelly. At the back are: Muireann O'Brien Gráinne Byrne Sorcha Blackwell and Sadhh Teahan.

On Thursday last two Transition Year Young Social Innovator (YSI) groups from St Brigid's Presentation pitched their ideas to a panel of representatives, including from Dublin City Council, Community Foundation Ireland and EirGrid, to enable them to access Social Impact Fund support to advance their projects.

The group ‘Tictock’ includes Ellie Greene and Anna Whyte who are the creative producers, Jennie O'Mahony and Lorna O'Sullivan research and development executives, Grace O'Meara and Seodhla Colleran coordinators of the group, Leah Griffin and Laura Flynn, financial controllers.

‘Tictock’ aims to raise awareness of the impacts of Ticks and Lymes Disease in the Killarney area. The students pitched their project to a team of five judges and were successfully awarded funding of €700 to help them resource signs for the National Park and Tick removal kits for local schools and shops. They also received links to Kerry County Council to help them proceed with these ideas.

Up next was 'Winning With Women', a YSI project aiming to tackle gender inequality in sports.
The team is made up of Caoilfhionn Doyle, Sophie Moran, Aoibhín Kelly, Muireann O'Brien, Gráinne Byrne, Sorcha Blackwell and Sadhh Teahan.

The team presented their idea for designing a pair of sports shorts specifically for women's bodies, a need which they identified based on their own experience of taking part in sports. They were awarded funding to design and create a prototype of sports shorts that are tailored to women's bodies, and to launch a campaign to bring attention to the issue of the need for sports clothing and equipment to be tailored to women doing sport. They will also receive mentoring in social media and marketing.

"The project pitch was very well received by the judges with the girls awarded €800 to fund their campaign and ideas," their teacher, Catherine O'Donoghue, said.

“The innovative ideas awarded Social Impact Fund support through our Social Innovation Den this year show how strongly engaged our young people are when it comes to the pressing and relevant issues impacting on people and society today," Roger Warnock, CEO of Young Social Innovators, said.

"We are delighted to help advance these inspirational youth-led projects further through the provision of direct support."



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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