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“We don’t know what to do – we are desperate” – Ukrainians shocked at last minute Mayo move

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ISSUE: Brendan Griffin TD will raise the issue of moving the Ukrainians to Mayo in the Dáil today (Tuesday).

By Michelle Crean

With less than 24 hours until an unexpected move 300kms across the country, Ukrainian women and children in Killarney are desperately pleading to political leaders to help them keep their accommodation.

135 Ukrainian women and children have settled and built their lives while accommodated at Hotel Killarney on the Cork Road since last March. Children have made friends and many of the women found jobs locally.

However, that's now all up in the air after they received a letter with just 48 hours notice to move to Westport tomorrow (Wednesday) at 12pm - following the arrival of up to 190 male refugees from a number of countries including Algeria, Albania, Georgia, Syria, Palestine and others.

According to Ukrainian Dina Kukushkina who works in Reens Pharmacy, it's been a huge shock for them.

"We don't know what to do, we only have one day left," she told the Killarney Advertiser.

"We got a letter yesterday (Monday) with information that we have to move on Wednesday to Mayo."

The Ukrainians are in Ireland under the Temporary Protection Directive which allows them to work. They have spent the last seven months settling into life in Killarney making friends, putting children in local schools and finding jobs.

Dina said that they had no prior notice that the men were arriving - the first they knew, she said, was at 11pm one night last week when they started passing through the corridors of the hotel.

"We were very shocked. We just looked from behind the door, a lot of men were passing through, we didn't expect that."

She said that the children will be re-traumatised if they have to move and settle into new lives again.

"We don't have any other choice. We are desperate, we are trembling. It's crazy for our children. We have started to build our lives here and settle. I found a good job and started to feel confident again. We are very grateful to the government and people of Ireland and especially Kerry for helping us and for the feeling of safety for our families."

Kerry TD Brendan Griffin will today (Tuesday) raise the issue as a matter of an emergency in the Dáil.

He said that he has tried numerous times to contact Roderic O'Gorman, TD and Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to get some answers.

"This is scandalous," he told the Killarney Advertiser.

"The message it is sending out to Ukrainians is 'no matter what support you're getting - don't rest easy as you could be moved'. This is so wrong, for the children in particular who have settled and got a routine in their lives, to move them 300kms away. Their new lives are in Killarney now. The lads [men refugees] are far more mobile, they haven't put down roots. The children will be traumatised."

He added that one option for the women and children is to refuse to get on the bus tomorrow but that comes with a further risk.

"There's a great unease about moving but if you go against International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) you're thrown out of the system."

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Seven An Post staff retire

Seven well-known staff members at An Post Killarney celebrated retirement this week. The staff, Mary O’Sullivan, Joe Clifford, Paudie Cronin, Joe Coffey, Tom Ashe, Jerry McCarthy and Dan Murphy were […]

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Seven well-known staff members at An Post Killarney celebrated retirement this week.

The staff, Mary O’Sullivan, Joe Clifford, Paudie Cronin, Joe Coffey, Tom Ashe, Jerry McCarthy and Dan Murphy were treated to an night of celebration and reminiscing by the South Kerry branch of the Communication Workers Union of Ireland.

The retirees, their families and colleagues enjoyed an evening at ‘The Panoramic’ the newly named restaurant upstairs at Killarney Racecourse.

Ollie Favier, of the Shire fame has taken over responsibility for operating the coffee shop / restaurant at the racecourse.

“A beautiful venue and apt that Ollie’s father Dan RIP from Glenflesk, was also a long serving postman in the community,” said John O’Shea, the Union Secretary An Post Killarney.

“The night included music with Derry Healy and Rosie Healy and was attended by up to 80 people, under the attentive guidance of Sales and Marketing Manager Emma O’Connor and Ollie’s right hand man, Colin Daly

“The event the food and the atmosphere was a great success and credit to all Ollie’s staff for being great hosts. “

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Watch Video: Primary School Students share knowledge from Coffee Cup Project

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Killarney primary schools have joined the crusade against single use coffee cups this week by joining the Killarney Coffee Cup Project and declaring themselves single use coffee cup free. The Killarney Coffee Project is a community grassroots project aimed at eliminating single use coffee cups from Killarney town centre to protect Killarney National Park and the towns surroundings all in the name of conservation.

Alan Oliver, a local coffee shop owner, Lir Café, who is one of the participants of the project has said that he is “thrilled to see the project extend into the local schools. Teaching young people about why we should be moving away from a throw away culture is imperative to the continuous success of projects like this. Today’s young people are the future custodians of this town and so educating them on the importance of sustainability will ensure that Killarney and its National Park will be in safe hands for future generations.”

The schools involved in declaring themselves single use coffee cup free include Holycross Mercy, Gaelscoil Faithleann, Presentation Monastery, Glenflesk, Knocknanes, Coolick, Loreto, Lissivigeen and Tiernaboul. This follows on from the Killarney Coffee Cup Primary Schools Initiative which took place last November supported by Killarney Credit Union, the Kerry Biosphere, and the IKC3 project in MTU.

In November the 5th classes in the Killarney area were brought to Muckross School House and Killarney House for a 2-hour immersive environmental education experience around our connection to the Kerry Biosphere and citizen climate action. Here the students learned about our biosphere and how we as citizens and sustainable initiatives like the Killarney Coffee Cup Project can protect this Special Area of Conservation. Finally, they went outside to work with a park ranger, collecting acorns in leftover disposable compostable cups that the project had gathered from various businesses. They took these acorns back to their classrooms where they have planted and are caring for their oak tree. In 2024, these young oak tree seedlings will be planted back into the National Park.

The Killarney Coffee Cup Project is the 1st of its kind in the world, and it is something that belongs to all the citizens of the town. We all own this!

Want to hear from the future voices of our environment?

This week the Killarney Advertiser caught up with primary schoolers who have been busy learning all about protecting our amazing natural environment

Watch our video where the future eco-warriors share what they’ve learned about keeping our Killarney healthy and thriving! Here is to the next generation of environmental stewards!

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