DRIVE TO SURVIVE: More than 50 chauffeur drivers and tour bus operators, including several from Killarney, took part in a drive along the Wild Atlantic Way last weekend to highlight their concerns over their loss of business as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
By Sean Moriarty
Coach and tour operators in Killarney say their contribution to the tourism sector has been overlooked by the Government’s July stimulus package.
O‘Callaghan Coaches, which last year celebrated its 50th year, say they are facing huge challenges as they try to get back on the road.
Their main business is providing coach tours, either to incoming foreign visitors or by bringing locals on pilgrimage to Lourdes or Christmas shopping trips to Dublin. This week should have been particularly busy with Galway Races.
They pick up additional business by providing transport to local sports clubs and enjoy a long association with Legion GAA, Killarney Rugby Club and Killarney Celtic FC.
Despite the lack of any income they are still obliged to carry out annual road worthy tests on their 30-strong fleet at a cost €400 per vehicle; they continue to pay insurance, and despite a moratorium on vehicle loans they are still paying interest on them.
Currently they have around 50 part-time and full-time drivers who are out of work.
“We have been completely parked up since March,” Phillip O’Callaghan told the Killarney Advertiser. “There is no domestic market. Even in the last recession we still had 30 or 40 percent of our business but now we have nothing.”
Mr O’Callaghan is calling for further Government support to help the ailing sector.
He says coach operators are an important link in the whole tourism-economic package and their contribution is being overlooked.
“We bring people to places like the Gap of Dunloe or the Red Fox Inn and our customers could spend €5 or a €100 in each location,” he said.
The Government did grant a €10 million Business Continuity Fund to coach operators as part of its July stimulus package but by the time that is divided up between all operators there won’t be much left to go round.
The Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland estimate there were 1,721 private operators in Ireland last year. That would leave just over €5,800 per operator and, as an example, that would allow O’Callaghan Coaches claim €193 per vehicle – assuming they would get the full €5,800 – which won’t cover the annual test for each vehicle.
“Those funds are with Fáilte Ireland and even they don’t know what to do with it,” Mr O’Callaghan added.
Drive to Survive
Meanwhile, more than 50 chauffeur drivers and tour bus operators, including several from Killarney, took part in a drive along the Wild Atlantic Way last weekend to highlight their concerns over their loss of business as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
The ‘Drive2Survive’, organised by the Western Chauffeur Drive Association left Killarney on Friday in convoy for the three day road trip along the west coast stopping at visitor and heritage sites along the Wild Atlantic Way including Bunratty, the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Salthill, Maams Cross, Leenane, Ballina, Sligo, finishing in Donegal.
Local operators took part in the Kerry leg of the trip. They included Pat Buckley. He and his son Patrick own and operate Personal Tours Ireland and rely on the American tourist market to survive.
They have had very limited business since last October, the traditional end of the tourism season. Business usually picks up in March ahead of the busy peak months of July and August but the rug was pulled from under them at the start of the national shutdown.
What to look out for when viewing second hand homes
By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY After spending so long saving for a mortgage and filling in countless application forms, you are now ready to begin your house hunting in earnest. Set yourself a budget and have a look to see what is available in your desired locations within that budget. Viewing appointments can […]
By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY
After spending so long saving for a mortgage and filling in countless application forms, you are now ready to begin your house hunting in earnest.
Set yourself a budget and have a look to see what is available in your desired locations within that budget.
Viewing appointments can be arranged via a telephone call or a simple email to the selling agent. When making the appointment make it clear that the mortgage is in place and you are ‘ready to go’.
This week we will deal with viewing second hand homes and what to look out for on that first property viewing.
When you arrive at a house, you’ll get a general feel outside of how well it’s been maintained. Arrive early and study the exterior of the property before going in, and have a glance at neighbouring properties. This will help you to get your bearings before continuing with the viewing.
If viewing an older house, a musty smell is the first red flag for signs of damp. Also be wary of the smell of fresh paint; was this done to simply freshen the property up or what is it covering up? Is paintwork bubbling or flaking?
Take note of any wall cracking; hairline cracks in walls and ceilings are generally fine, but if you can spot a crack from the other side of the room, then it’s probably big enough to be concerned about.
In older houses, take a good look at windows and roofs. Window frames can slope downward if there are poor ground conditions underneath, and the roof of the house can sag in too.
Is there room to extend? If you are lucky enough that there is have a look for external manhole covers; it gives a good indication of the drainage and pipe layout which may complicate a future extension.
Don’t be afraid to ask the nosy questions; why is the house for sale? How long has it been on the market? How long have the current owners resided there? Has the house been rented out frequently? How many times has it changed hands in the last decade? Have there been any refurbishments? Has it been rewired/replumbed? Who are the neighbours? What is included in the selling price?
It is a good idea to take photos (with the agents consent) or videos as this will help you remember the property after you have returned home.
And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for more time. Spend as much time as you think you need to and don’t hesitate to request a second viewing.
Bus to Belfast to stay on the road
A Kerry TD has today (Monday) welcomed the news that the Bus to Belfast is to stay on the road. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said assurances from the Department of Health that The Northern Ireland Planned Healthcare Scheme (NI PHS), which has been in effective operation since January 1 this year, will remain in place until […]
A Kerry TD has today (Monday) welcomed the news that the Bus to Belfast is to stay on the road.
Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said assurances from the Department of Health that The Northern Ireland Planned Healthcare Scheme (NI PHS), which has been in effective operation since January 1 this year, will remain in place until a new a statutory scheme is put in place.
The Kerry deputy avails of this service for his constituents on a regular basis and said many were concerned that the scheme may come to an end due to Brexit.
“What this will mean to so many of my constituents is that they can continue to avail of this scheme for treatments for cataract removals by travelling from Kerry by bus to Belfast so that they can get treated in a timely manner and get back to living their lives in a healthy manner,” Deputy Healy-Rae said.
“I am delighted that the Government has seen the good sense to help continue this scheme and I’m delighted that the pressure of representation that I have brought to this scheme will see it continue.”
The Scheme was first introduced to mitigate the loss of access to care from private providers in Northern Ireland under the EU Cross Border Directive, which ceased to apply as a result of Brexit. However, the Government intends to place the administrative NI PHS on a statutory basis and an extensive examination of options to inform the drafting of a General Scheme is currently underway with confirmation that the administrative scheme will remain until such time that a statutory scheme is in place.
Patients also continue to have access to health services under the EU Cross Border Directive Scheme in all other remaining EU/EEA countries.
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