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Tuesday 17 October 2017

Travellers to bring top tourist town to standstill

Michael Healy-Rae TD Picture: Tom Burke
Michael Healy-Rae TD Picture: Tom Burke

John O'Mahony

Traveller rights activists have threatened to bring the country's top tourist town to a standstill on St Patrick's Day to highlight their claims they are being discriminated against by local publicans and hoteliers.

They allege they are being refused entry to licensed premises in the town and have served notice that up to 4,500 Travellers will descend on Killarney, Co Kerry, on Friday to take part in a public demonstration.

The organisers said Travellers would come from as far away as the UK to protest and claimed that while 4,500 were expected, they could get 50,000 protesters if they wished.

At a public meeting in a local hotel at the weekend, one of the campaign leaders, who calls himself Tom Rights but won't divulge his real name, warned: "We will bring Killarney to a standstill and I promise Killarney that.

"I am going to close that town down for one day. I mean it. We will not go away."

Another of the organisers, Killarney man Jim Brien, said the demonstrators would gather outside the town's two Catholic churches and on the Killarney-Kenmare road which is the main tourist access point to the Ring of Kerry.

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae and local councillors Toiréasa Ferris and Donal Grady attended the public meeting over the weekend and said they would liaise with the town's business community to determine whether talks could be arranged to avert the situation.

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