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“We want our town back” – Councillor




By Sean Moriarty

A local councillor has hit out at the Government this week expressing real fear for the future of Killarney's tourism industry.


Cllr Niall ‘Botty’ O’Callaghan was at pains to point out that those seeking refuge need to be looked after - but warned that the Government needs to look at the big picture too.

He said that the influx of refugees and asylum seekers will have a serious financial impact on the town next summer and he is calling on all Government agencies to come up with a plan.

He is also going to raise the issue at next month’s Killarney Municipal District meeting.

Outside of Dublin Killarney has the highest ratio of refugees and asylum seekers per head of population in the entire country.

Tourism operators fear that there is a lack of thought too in relation to the long term viability of the industry in the town.

According to his Department there's currently a total of 360 International Protection (IP) applicants residing in Hotel Killarney including single males, females and families, and a total number of 572 International Protection applicants living in Killarney.

There are 1,304 Ukrainian women and children housed across Killarney town in a number of hotels since they were forced to leave Hotel Killarney two weeks ago.

Many in the town have expressed concern that this is not viable and it will have a knock-on effect on all tourism related businesses over the next few months.

While no one in the tourism industry denies that the refugees need help and refuge - a dearth of available accommodation in the Killarney area next summer is causing real fear amongst operators.

One hotelier told the Killarney Advertiser that one of his regular golf tourism providers is actively not promoting Killarney as a potential destination next year as they cannot get accommodation in the area.

Cllr O’Callaghan has concerns that all who are currently housed in hotels in Killarney have no reason to head into town each night and spend money in local bars, souvenir shops and cafes. They are not taking jarvey rides in the National Park, are not going to the cinema or attending concerts or other events in the town. Allied businesses are closing on a weekly basis.

He and his family operate the Fáilte Hotel on College Street.

“A rumour went around town that I was taking in refugees, the amount of abuse I got was unbelievable,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “I understand that these countries are on their knees and these people need help, but from an economic point of view this does not make sense. The Government seems to have plenty of money to look after these people but are they going to look after small businesses that are suffering over decisions made by Government?”

Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce acknowledged that there is growing concern locally that the State agencies seeking to house refugees and asylum seekers are merely identifying available beds in Killarney – given its tourism base – but there seems to be very little thought going into providing the related professional services required, particularly access to medical services, school places and support systems.

“The lack of access to proper services is not fair on them, it is not fair on the service providers who are under strain and if the current trends continue, it can only lead to a complete systems failure,” said a Chamber statement.

“We want our town back,” added Cllr O’Callaghan.



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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