US will work with China on climate despite other differences: Kerry

WASHINGTON: The United States will try to keep climate negotiations with China separate from other disagreements affecting the two countries’ ties, John Kerry said on Wednesday (Jan 27).

The former secretary of state, who is now President Joe Biden’s climate envoy, stressed that while it isn’t possible for the US to stem rising global temperatures alone, developing an aggressive domestic policy would make an “enormous difference.”

“Now with respect to China, obviously we have serious differences with China, on some very, very, important issues,” he continued.

“The issues of theft of intellectual property and access to market, the South China Sea – I mean run the list, we all know them.

READ: Biden pauses oil and gas leases, cuts subsidies in ‘bold’ climate steps

“Those issues will never be traded for anything that has to do with climate, that’s not going to happen. But climate is a critical standalone issue that we have to deal on.”

He added that China was responsible for 30 per cent of the world’s emissions and the US for 15 per cent.

“So it’s urgent that we find a way to compartmentalise to move forward,” he said.

China has called for a reset in relations with Biden’s administration after a corrosive period of diplomacy under Donald Trump, who harangued Beijing over trade, rights, the origins of COVID-19, tech and defence supremacy.

Biden has signalled he will remain tough on the superpower rival, but soften the tone and commit to international cooperation after Trump’s divisive “America First” approach.

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Former ABC journalist Kerry O’Brien rejects Australia Day honour in protest over Margaret Court award

Renowned journalist Kerry O’Brien has rejected his Australia Day award, saying the decision to give former tennis great Margaret Court the country’s highest honour is “deeply insensitive” and “divisive”.

The former host of the ABC’s Four Corners and 7.30 programs wrote to the Governor-General’s secretary Paul Singer on Sunday knocking back his appointment as an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia — the second-highest honour.

Ms Court is being promoted from an Officer of the Order of Australia to a Companion (AC), but two state premiers and LGBT groups have criticised the decision due to her outspoken views against same-sex relationships and transgender people.

Mr O’Brien said he could not accept his honour from the same body that would make “such a deeply insensitive and divisive decision”.

“Margaret Court was a great tennis player who thrilled most Australians in her tennis years including me, but her hurtful and divisive criticisms relating to the fundamental rights of the LGBTQ+ community are clearly repugnant to many Australians,” O’Brien wrote.

“I believe the decision to present her with this award was deeply insensitive and must undermine community respect for awards that were created to celebrate a true spirit of community, not divide it.”

Mr O’Brien’s decision to reject the award was in support of Canberra doctor Clara Tuck Meng Soo, who last week handed back her Australia Day honour over Ms Court’s appointment.

Dr Soo received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2016 for her work as a medical practitioner with LGBT people and those with HIV and drug dependencies.

In 2018, she became one of the first GPs in Australia to undergo gender transition.

Canberra doctor Clara Tuck Meng Soo is returning her Order of Australia medal.(ABC News: Selby Stewart)

In a letter to Governor-General David Hurley, Dr Soo said the move by the Council for the Order of Australia to elevate Ms Court’s honour sent “a message that they condone” her views.

“[This award] is condoning if not supporting the very negative and hurtful statements she has made about the LGBTIQ community over the past few years,” Dr Soo wrote.

“If we are awarding the highest honour in the land to someone, it needs to be for more than just achievements in their field,” she said.

Mr O’Brien, a seven-time Walkley Award winner, was to be awarded for distinguished service to the broadcast media and to journalism as a current affairs presenter, interviewer and reporter.

He initially accepted the honour but decided to reverse it in solidarity with Dr Soo.

“To me, Dr Tuck Meng Soo epitomises the true spirit of the Order of Australia. Her actions speak volumes as to why the Court award is so wrong,” he wrote.

“Please pass on my regrets to the Governor-General. I am conscious that there are many well-meaning people involved in the Order of Australia process, but there has to be something fundamentally wrong with a system that can produce such a deeply insensitive and divisive decision.”

Margaret Court
Former tennis champion Margaret Court says people should judge her tennis, not her personal views.(AFP: Paul Crock, file photo)

Ms Court holds a record 24 grand slam singles titles and in 1963 became the first female Australian to win Wimbledon.

The 78-year-old, who is now a minister of the Pentecostal Church in Perth, on Friday welcomed the Council for the Order of Australia’s decision to elevate her and defended her past criticisms of same-sex marriage.

“I’m not going to change my opinions and views, and I think it’s very important for freedom of speech that we can say our beliefs,” she said.

Ms Court has described homosexuality as “an abominable sexual practice” and wrote an open letter in 2017 saying she would boycott Qantas over its support of same-sex marriage.

“I teach what the Bible says about things and you get persecuted for it,” she said in an ABC interview last year.

In 2013, she wrote a letter to the editor in a newspaper lamenting the birth of Australian tennis player Casey Dellacqua’s child in a same-sex relationship.

“It is with sadness that I see that this baby has seemingly been deprived of a father,” Ms Court wrote.

LGBTQ+ advocates have expressed concerns Ms Court’s views could encourage hostility and discrimination towards young gay and transgender people, who have higher rates of suicide than the general population.

Some advocates have called on the Council of the Order of Australia to reverse its decision, which they said “rewards prejudice”.

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Tennis great Margaret Court responded to the controversy over her appointment to the highest level of the Order of Australia.

Anyone is able to nominate someone for an Order of Australia award.

After someone is nominated, staff in the Governor-General’s office research each candidate.

Then the candidates are considered by the Council for the Order of Australia — an independent body of 19 members that has representation from each state and territory.

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Kerry O’Brien refuses Order of Australia medal after Margaret Court receives Australia Day honour

Kerry O’Brien has rejected the Australia Day honour he was due to receive today in protest at the ″⁣deeply insensitive and divisive decision″⁣ to give the country’s highest award to former tennis great Margaret Court.

“I believe the decision to award Australia’s highest honour to Margaret Court may serve to erode the hard-fought gains made over decades in reducing the impact of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community,” the veteran journalist and former ABC current affairs host wrote in a letter to the office of the Governor-General, David Hurley.

Kerry O’Brien said giving Margaret Court an Australia Day medal “eroded the hard fought gains made over decades” to stop discrimination against the LGBTQI community.Credit:Ben Rushton

He added that such discrimination “has caused immense pain to untold people and destroyed lives”.

Mr O’Brien had earlier agreed to accept his appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in Tuesday’s official honours. But on Saturday, he wrote to reverse his decision in protest against Mrs Court’s elevation in an awards system that had already recognised her achievements as the winner of 24 Grand Slam singles tennis titles, and her charity work, with an Order of Australia in 2007.

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U.S. climate envoy Kerry, UK’s COP26 chief discuss common goals

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Business Secretary Alok Sharma arrives at number 10 Downing in London, Britain, December 14, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

January 21, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry spoke to Britain’s head of the United Nations COP26 climate conference on Thursday, agreeing that the two countries would work together to raise global efforts ahead of the meeting in November.

Kerry and Alok Sharma, Britain’s former business minister, agreed that there was no time to waste and noted that the two countries were once again tightly aligned on the issue.

“The pair agreed that their respective officials should work together closely,” a British statement said. “They looked forward to speaking regularly in the run up to G7 and COP26, and to meeting in person at the soonest possibility.”

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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After First Test Kerry O’Keeffe tells joke about wife to Shane Warne on Fox Sports

Skull has done it again.

Kerry O’Keeffe, the funniest man in cricket, has left Shane Warne and Mark Howard in stitches in the Fox Cricket commentary box after relaying an unexpected impact of COVID on his life at home.

During the broadcast of the First Test in Adelaide, which Australia won by eight wickets after rolling India for 36 in its second innings, O’Keeffe was asked by Howard to tell Warne about “the lady you met at home” during coronavirus restrictions.

“Oh, yeah,” O’Keeffe began. “When we had to start spending more time at home, I noticed this woman sitting in my lounge room”.

“Yeah?” Warne responded.

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“Yeah, because I was in and out (of the house) with (my) Fox Cricket (commentary duties),” O’Keeffe continued.

“And with COVID … I started to talk to her.”

At this point Warne was completely flummoxed and looked at Howard to question what was going on but the punch line was coming.

“And she told me she was my wife!” O’Keeffe cried. “And we’re getting on really well!

“There’s a plus to COVID … I met my missus!”

Howard immediately covered his face with his hand as Warne roared with laughter.

O’Keeffe is beloved in Aussie cricket but was forced to apologise to Indian fans after they took exception to some lighthearted comments about the quality of their first-class competition when they last visited Australia.

The former Aussie spinner took a lighthearted swipe at debut opener Mayank Agarwal, suggesting he’d scored his maiden first class triple century against “canteen staff” in India.

“Apparently he got the triple against the Railways canteen staff,” O’Keeffe said before joking about a kitchen hand opening the bowling.

O’Keeffe penned an open letter of apology after receiving a heated reaction.

“I accept that some fans may not always relate to my sense of humour — but missing the mark on a joke between overs is vastly different to what I’ve been accused of on Twitter and in some sections of the media in recent days,” it read.

“I was mentioning the runs Agarwal got in first class cricket in India and there’s been a reaction,” he said. “There was no way I was demeaning the standard, it was tongue in cheek. There are lots of runs scored so apologies if anyone out there took offence.”

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Joe Biden reveals key national security and foreign policy appointments, with climate change job for John Kerry

US president-elect Joe Biden has revealed who will take up key posts in his cabinet.

He will nominate former secretary of state John Kerry to be his climate change envoy, longtime advisor Antony Blinken to be secretary of state, lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas to be homeland security secretary, Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be ambassador to the United Nations, Jake Sullivan to be his national security adviser, and Avril Haines to be Mr Sullivan’s deputy.

The choices suggest Mr Biden intends to make good on campaign promises to have his cabinet reflect the diversity of the American population, with Ms Greenfield, a black woman, at the helm of the US mission to the United Nations and Mr Mayorkas, a Cuban-American lawyer, to be the first Latino to lead Homeland Security.

They “are experienced, crisis-tested leaders who are ready to hit the ground running on day one,” the transition team said in a statement.

“These officials will start working immediately to rebuild our institutions, renew and reimagine American leadership to keep Americans safe at home and abroad, and address the defining challenges of our time — from infectious disease, to terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats, and climate change.”

National security adviser to be one of the youngest ever

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Former US president Barack Obama says he’s excited about Joe Biden’s administration picks.

In making the announcements, Mr Biden moved forward with plans to fill out his government even as President Donald Trump refuses to concede defeat in the November election.

The President is pursuing legal challenges in several key states and has worked to stymie the transition process.

Perhaps the best known of the group is Mr Kerry, who made climate change one of his top priorities while serving as former president Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

“I’m proud to partner with the president-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the president’s climate envoy.”

Mr Sullivan, who at 43 will be one of the youngest national security advisers in history, was a top aide to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton before becoming then-vice-president Biden’s national security adviser.

He said the president-elect had “taught me what it takes to safeguard our national security at the highest levels of our Government”.

“Now, he has asked me to serve as his national security adviser,” Mr Sullivan said.

The posts to be held by Mr Kerry, Mr Sullivan and Ms Haines do not require Senate confirmation.

New secretary of state to inherit depleted State Department

A headshot of Anthony Blinken as he testifies on Capitol Hill.
As secretary of state, Anthony Blinken would hold a role similar to foreign ministers in other countries.(AP: Jose Luis Magana)

Mr Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Mr Biden.

If nominated and confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the US relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump has questioned longtime alliances.

Mr Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Mr Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris, and has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.

Although the State Department escaped massive proposed cuts of more than 30 per cent in its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, from which many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service.

A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School, and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Mr Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement.

“Democracy is in retreat around the world, and unfortunately it’s also in retreat at home because of the president taking a two-by-four to its institutions, its values and its people every day,” Mr Blinken told the Associated Press in September.

Mr Blinken served on the National Security Council (NSC) during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Mr Biden was chair of the panel.

In the early years of the Obama administration, Mr Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-vice-president Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to then-secretary of state John Kerry.


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AFL 2020: Mark Keane Collingwood, Gaelic football, Cork defeats Kerry, video, last-second goal, GAA, reaction, news

Collingwood’s Mark Keane has become an instant hero back home in Ireland, winning a Gaelic football final with the last kick of the game in his debut.

The 20-year-old, who made his AFL debut back in Round 9 this past season against Fremantle, returned home six weeks ago.

After seeking permission from the Magpies, Keane was named to play for Cork in the Munster semi-final against Kerry, with his side serious underdogs.

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Grand Final

Kerry is the most successful team in the sport’s history, winning the All-Ireland title 37 times.

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Trainer Kerry Parker appreciates his Rosehill Gold Cup contender Think It Over

A good horse goes a long way in a smaller stable and trainer Kerry Parker doesn’t that for granted when he saddles up his star Think It Over.

The Kembla Grange horseman operates with a team of around 20 but Think It Over is his best and he’s hoping the progressive five-year-old can fill that role for some time.

The son of So You Think heads to Randwick for Saturday’s $500,000 Kypreos Group Rosehill Gold Cup (2000m) coming off a career best triumph in the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) a fortnight earlier.

Parker, who trained his maiden Group 1 winner in 2018 when Dark Dream claimed the Queensland Derby, believes it was a glimpse of things to come for his emerging gelding.

“It’s hard to have that quality of horse in work as a small stable so it’s nice to have him with us,” Parker said.

“He has given us a good impression from the moment we got him.

“I’ve always had that high opinion and he is a lovely type of horse but he is still learning his trade.

“In against those A-graders in the Hill Stakes he battled a bit but I think he will get another chance later on.

“With his rating where it is now he has to be aiming at good quality races.”

Think It Over was racing well without winning to start his preparation before running into the likes of Kolding and Fierce Impact in the Group 2 Hill Stakes in the first week of October.

He finally broke through for a deserved black type success at his next start in the Craven Plate with jockey Glen Boss declaring ‘you don’t know where the roof is because he’s a real improving type of horse.”

Parker elected to press on deeper into the spring with his talented galloper and has a tilt at the $1 million The Gong (1600m) on his radar on his home track next month.

But the trainer was keen to get through a difficult assignment on Golden Eagle day first.

Think It Over will carry the top weight of 59kg on Saturday and has drawn awkwardly in barrier 13 with Nash Rawiller aboard.

“He has had a run of nice barriers so we were entitled to get a bad one but it’s still not nice,” Parker said.

“It’s a tricky draw especially when he has gone up in the weights and is facing a soft track.

“The positives are, I know I have got a horse that is 100% and racing in top form.”

A field of 16 runners is set to line up in the Gold Cup with the John Thompson-trained Purple Sector holding favouritism at $3.80 with

Think It Over is $12.

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Opinion | John Kerry: China’s Chance to Save Antarctic Sealife

Even as the United States and China confront deep disagreements, there is a global challenge that simply won’t wait for the resolution of our differences: climate change.

While some have decided that we are entering a new Cold War with China, we can still cooperate on critical mutual interests. After all, even at the height of 20th-century tensions, the Americans and the Soviets negotiated arms control agreements, which were in the interests of both countries.

Climate change, like nuclear proliferation, is a challenge of our own making — and one to which we hold the solution. We have an opportunity this month to make clear that great power rivalries aside, geopolitics must end at the water’s edge — at the icy bottom of our planet in the Southern Ocean, which surrounds the entire continent of Antarctica.

The first post-World War II arms limitation agreement — the Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959 at the height of the Cold War — banned military activities, created a nuclear-free space, set aside territorial claims and declared the continent a global commons dedicated to peace and science. Now we have the opportunity to extend that global commons from the land to the sea.

China could make a powerful statement about climate leadership by throwing its weight behind the creation of three new marine parks — where no fishing or other industrial activity would be allowed — in the Southern Ocean waters off the East Antarctic, around the Antarctic Peninsula and in the Weddell Sea. Totaling nearly four million square kilometers of protected oceans, about one and a half million square miles, this would be a refuge where wildlife can adapt to warming and acidifying seas, and one of the largest acts of environmental protection in history.

Study after study shows that one of the best ways to protect and conserve marine biodiversity is by declaring protected areas in parts of the ocean — eliminating stresses like fishing and other industrial activity — which in turn helps ecosystems build resilience to a changing climate.

The Southern Ocean not only teems with life, but also helps regulate the global climate, driving ocean circulation that carries oxygen-rich waters and nutrients supporting marine life and fisheries in much of the world’s oceans. One of the foundations of the Antarctic ecosystem — krill — is a food source for that ecosystem, and through its life cycle also helps lock up 23 million tons of carbon dioxide annually from the earth’s atmosphere, the equivalent to greenhouse gases produced annually by 35 million cars.

But Antarctica is one of the fastest warming places on the planet, which will have repercussions both within and far from its icy waters. In January, the first ever reported heat wave hit the seventh continent in East Antarctica, where a few months later a melting hot spot was identified under the Shirase Glacier. Most recently, researchers have revealed that 60 percent of Antarctic ice shelves are at risk to fracture, a loss that would cause catastrophic sea level rise to coastal cities and devastating destruction to the Southern Ocean ecosystem.

We already have a blueprint that can help reduce harmful impacts on marine ecosystems. Four years ago, the Commission for the Conservation of the Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the body responsible for governing the Southern Ocean, created the world’s largest marine protected area in the Ross Sea — a vast deep bay off Antarctica considered the southernmost sea on Earth. This move united allies, rivals and adversaries — including the United States, Russia and China — to demonstrate that, despite political tensions in other parts of the world, the Antarctic continues to be a global common dedicated to peace, science and conservation.

In the lead-up to the 2016 agreement, I worked closely with my counterparts in China. In 2012, the Chinese government had enshrined in its constitution the concept of “Ecological Civilization” and President Xi Jinping had argued that the economy and the environment were directly linked.

We had already forged joint cooperation on climate change, through President Barack Obama and President Xi’s joint announcement of each country’s emissions reductions ambitions ahead of the Paris Climate Accord, breaking a decades-long logjam. China was becoming a more vocal advocate for addressing climate change at home and abroad.

Today, the world is watching our two countries again on this issue — with some skepticism. We now have an opportunity to go further and join together in a new groundbreaking initiative that would dispel doubt about the global commitment to oceans-based climate solutions. Governments within the commission are meeting to decide on new marine protected areas in the Antarctic, and progress depends on whether China decides to join 24 countries and the European Union that already support approval. The commission operates on consensus, and all members must agree to stop fishing in these designated areas for the new marine parks to become a reality. The rest of the Southern Ocean remains open for regulated fishing activity.

Now is not the time to call into question commitments made on global environmental protection, or diminish the role multilateral platforms play in providing a foundation for global, science-based collaboration.

China has it fully within its power to make this achievement a reality. Success would belong to all nations, despite our differences — but most importantly it would be a success for future generations who count on us to secure a victory over climate change in their name.

John F. Kerry served as U.S. secretary of state from 2013 to 2017 in the Obama administration and was a United States senator from Massachusetts from 1985 to 2013.

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Trepidation and optimism in Kerry as Ireland locks down again | World News

Ireland has entered one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, with people banned from socialising and pubs, restaurants and bars closed.

Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced the measures earlier this week and said they would last for six weeks from today.

The measures include:

  • Closure of non-essential shops, pubs, bars and restaurants – but they can offer takeaways
  • Banning of social gatherings indoors and outdoors
  • Restriction of residents to within a 5km radius of their homes
  • Weddings capped to 25 people
  • Schools, childcare facilities and construction sites allowed to remain open

In the final hours before the new rules came into force, Sky News’ Ireland correspondent Stephen Murphy spoke to people about what is in store for the next six weeks.

I had never seen Killarney so empty.

The County Kerry town, one of the jewels in Ireland’s tourism crown, usually has a unique frisson, even in October.

Americans crowd the pavements, piling into the jaunting cars (horse-drawn carriages) for a leisurely tour of the National Park and the lakes, stopping off at the 15th century Ross Castle.

This year, of course, there are no tourists.

With hours to go before the Level 5 lockdown kicked in on Wednesday, the frosty streets were still and quiet.

Outside the International Hotel, under a temporary marquee, 15 locals – the maximum number permitted – were bundled up against the cold, savouring the last few hours of normality.

That’s an extremely relative definition of normality, as they were already barred from dining indoors.

The International Hotel in Killarney in the final hours of Level 3 restrictions

Siobhan Kelleher took a break from her Peking duck and wine to talk to Sky News.

Although her “heart bleeds” for the hospitality and retail workers who will now be laid off, she feels that the harsh lockdown is for the best.

“Unfortunately it is the right thing to do. We’re going through a crisis, and we have to keep a foot ahead, and do this together, and we’ll get out of it,” she said.

“We’ll just be positive and stay positive, and we’ll get out of it.”

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Mabel Counihan and her husband Dennis were out hunting “a last steak”.

They give up on the International due to the sheer demand for the 15 spots.

Before they left, Mabel told us: “I think the government is doing the right thing, but are they going far enough?

“What happens now is we lockdown for six weeks, we open up everything again, then people go mad, and we’ll have to do the same thing all over again.”

Les Browska, manager of the International Hotel in Killarney
Les Browska, manager of the International Hotel in Killarney

But how can the government go beyond Level 5, already one of the most severe lockdowns in Europe?

“Don’t get me wrong,” says Mabel, “I’m in business in the town myself, I hate to see anything locked down. But it is the right thing to do. It’s a necessary evil.”

The International Hotel’s duty manager is Les Browska, a gregarious Pole.

When he called last orders shortly after 11pm, there was an ironic cheer from the shivering punters. He seemed genuinely gutted to see his customers off into the chilly evening.

“This is devastating,” he said.

“We are heartbroken that we will not be able to look after our local community and serve our guests.

“Hospitality is all about welcoming the people, what we do is truly genuine, and this is what we’re going to miss the most, what is going to hit us the hardest.”

Hospitality is just one of the sectors that will bear the brunt of the next six weeks.

In Tralee, owner of Ballyseedy Home and Garden Nathan McDonnell shut up shop for the second time this year on Wednesday night.

Nathan McDonnell, owner of Ballyseedy Home and Garden in Killarney
Nathan McDonnell, owner of Ballyseedy Home and Garden in Tralee

“It’s certainly going to be a huge challenge for us,” he said. “But look, we’re resilient, we’ve been through this before and we’re confident we’ll get through this period.

“Hopefully they [the Irish government] will bring it back to four weeks from six and give us a chance to get the Christmas period and try to get some good trade in again.”

He’s just one of the optimistic Kerry voices we met on our journey through The Kingdom in the dying hours of Level 3.

Now Ireland faces six weeks of Level 5, which the government freely admits will cost €1.5bn (£1.35bn) and 200,000 jobs.

It remains to be seen if that optimism will persist that long, as a cold and dark winter draws in.

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