25th May 2020 464 Kerry people respond to Govt call for community volunteers during COVID-19 crisis Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD has commended the fantastic support of local volunteers in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Since the call for people to sign up to support the community response to COVID 19 in Kerry went out in March, 464 people from the area have registered to volunteer through the I-VOL app. Minister Griffin said: “Volunteers in Kerry have been directly linked by the local Volunteer Centre(s) to local organisations responding to COVID-19, conducting a wide range of very important work – from delivering food and medicines to older people who are self-isolating, to volunteering in COVID test centres. “There are also many more volunteers on the ground, helping out family, friends and neighbours. “I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for the invaluable work being carried out by volunteers in Kerry during the Covid-19 emergency. “The response to the COVID crisis shows once again what a fantastic resource we have in our volunteers and the wonderful community spirit that prevails here in Kerry even during these challenging times.” Minister Griffin continued: “We have always depended greatly on the cohort of volunteers that give so generously of their time and energy year in year out. “Unfortunately, many of our volunteers are older people who have been confined to their homes as a result of the COVID 19 crisis. “Back in March as the crisis was emerging, we called on people to help meet the significant needs at community level and the response has been magnificent.” Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, said: “I am very happy to be in a position to provide the necessary supports to underpin this important work through my Department’s collaboration with Volunteer Ireland and the network of Volunteer Centres. Together, we will ensure that the work of these volunteers results in a permanent legacy for the benefit of our communities. “During the crisis, the Department has introduced a number of additional measures to provide extra support, including additional funding of €500,000 to Volunteer Centres to support the COVID-19 volunteer efforts, a COVID-19 Communication Pack for Communities, a collection of seven leaflets offering practical advice and information on topics ranging from sensible volunteering to vulnerable persons to the prevention of fraud and theft; a €2.5 million COVID-19 Emergency Fund for local authorities to administer to community groups partaking in the ‘Community Call’, as well as €40 million support package of supports for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises.” ENDS For further information please contact Brendan on 087-6528841

Kerry enterprises urged to apply to Restart Grant for Small Business – Griffin Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD has urged small and micro businesses across Kerry to apply for the new €250m Restart Grant, which will give direct grant aid to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers following COVID-19 closures. Minister Griffin said: “The Grant will be available to businesses with a turnover of less than €5m and employing 50 people or less, which were closed or impacted by at least a 25% reduction in turnover out to 30th June 2020. “It is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers. “The grants will be equivalent to the rates bill of the business in 2019, with a minimum payment of €2,000 and a maximum payment of €10,000.” Minister Griffin continued: “I am acutely aware of the difficulties facing small businesses in Kerry during these challenging times. “The Restart Grant is designed to help these businesses get back on their feet. The grant can be used to defray ongoing fixed costs, for replenishing stock and for measures needed to ensure employee and customer safety. “Small businesses, whether it be the local hairdresser, café or clothes shop, are absolutely vital to the social fabric of our towns and villages throughout Kerry. “In response to the very significant economic challenges posed by Covid-19, the Government has moved swiftly to introduce a range of measures to support enterprises of all sizes. “These measures have included supports for wage costs, liquidity supports and the deferral or waiver of payments. “The Restart Grant will further help to support activity and employment across Kerry,” Minister Griffin said. Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, said: “These businesses have made huge sacrifices to protect their employees and customers during COVID-19 and we want to help them get back up and running so that they can return to viability and contribute to the national economic recovery. “These are small grants but they can make a big difference in terms of giving businesses an extra helping hand to open their doors again.” Applications for the Restart Grant can be made online to Kerry County Council from Friday 22nd May. Processing of applications and payment of the Restart Grant will depend on the initial surge of applications but, as far as is feasible, will be prioritised according to scheduled re-opening dates in the national Roadmap. This direct grant support is part of the wider €12bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst our SMEs. ENDS Note to Editors About the Restart Grant • Micro and small businesses are particularly vulnerable to the economic effects of Covid-19. Many businesses, even while closed, continue to incur costs including fixed costs without being able to generate revenues. It is recognised that businesses will also incur costs in preparing their businesses to reopen and meeting the needs of employees and customers. The Restart Grant is designed to alleviate the pressure on businesses in this context. • To avail of the Restart Grant, a business must be in the Local Authorities Commercial Rates Payment System and: 1. have an annual turnover of less than €5m and employ between 1 to 50 people; 2. have closed and/or suffered a projected 25%+ loss in turnover to end June 2020; 3. commit to remain open or to reopen if it was closed; 4. declare the intention to retaining employees that are on The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and to reemploy staff on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment where applicable. 5. The grant can be used to defray ongoing fixed costs, for replenishing stock and for measures needed to ensure employee and customer safety. For further information please contact Brendan on 087-6528841

Brendan Griffin 8th May 2020 Choice of calculated grades or Leaving Cert exams at a later date for Kerry students – Griffin The 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations have been postponed, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin TD has confirmed. Minister Griffin said: “Following a decision at Cabinet, all students are to be offered the option of receiving Calculated Grades for the subjects they are studying and the alternative of sitting the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations at a date in the future when it is considered safe to hold the examinations. “The reality of the impact of Covid-19 has led to a decision that has never happened before. I fully appreciate the magnitude of this issue, for local students and their families, for the teachers and for school principals all across Kerry. “The decision has been taken following an assessment of public health advice and other information and the implications for holding the exams from the previously rescheduled date of 29 July 2020. “My colleague, Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh, has made every effort to run the 2020 Leaving Certificate as close as possible to the way the examinations were originally intended to be held. “At a Government level, there was a great desire to allow students to undertake written and practical examinations in July and August but the compelling evidence, based on medical advice and other assessments, is that the Leaving Certificate examinations cannot be held in a reliable and valid manner, nor in a way that would be equitable for students. “This decision is taken with the best interests of students here in Kerry and all around the country at heart. I have a responsibility to find a fair way to address the disadvantage that some students are facing and the impact a lack of time in school has had in recent weeks. “The system being put in place will allow a young person to progress to the next stage of their life in a timely fashion. “The fairest and most equitable way to do that in the current circumstances is to offer students the option of Calculated Grades for the 2020 Leaving Certificate but also to guarantee them the right to sit the examinations at a later stage when it is safe to hold them in the normal way.” Minister Griffin added: “A Calculated Grade is a grade that can be provided to students following the combination of school information about a student’s expected performance in an examination and national data available in relation to the performance of students in examinations over a period of time.” Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh, said: “The decision has to be taken now to remove the anxiety many students have been experiencing over how the exams would look later in the summer.” The following is a breakdown of the process to be applied for students to be given the option of Calculated Grades or to sit the examinations. 1. The 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations, previously scheduled to take place in late July and August, have been postponed. 2. There will be no Leaving Certificate fee this year. All exam fees which have been paid will be refunded. 3. Teachers will be asked to provide a professional judgment of each student’s attainment which will be subjected to a rigorous in-school alignment process to ensure fairness. 4. The school principal will approve the estimated scores being provided and the rankings of each student in each subject in the school. 5. A special unit is being established within the Department of Education and Skills to process the data provided by each school and operate national standardisation, again to ensure fairness amongst all students. 6. The Department will finalise the grades for each student which will be issued to each student as close as possible to the traditional date. Formal State certification will also be provided. 7. Students will retain the right to appeal. This will involve checks on school-entered data; correct transfer of that data to the Department; a review that it was correctly received and processed by the Department; and a verification of the Department’s processes by independent appeal scrutineers. 8. Students will also retain the right to the sit the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations at a date in the future when it is deemed safe for state examinations to be held. ENDS Note to Editors • There are two main phases in the process of arriving at a calculated grade: School-based and national standardisation. • Both phases are underpinned by the principles of teacher professionalism, support for students, objectivity, fairness and equity, collaboration and timeliness. • In addition, and in the spirit of fairness to all Leaving Certificate students, the option of sitting the Leaving Certificate examinations when it becomes feasible to hold them remains open to all students. • The process of arriving at a Calculated Grade applies to: • Established Leaving Certificate – subjects • Leaving Certificate Applied – subjects, tasks and vocational specialisms • Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme – Link Modules. Other materials being published include • A guidance document for the education system and others in relation to the system of Calculated Grades is available on the Department’s website here:https://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Information/State-Examinations/a-guide-to-calculated-grades-for-leaving-certificate-students-2020.pdf • A FAQs document is also being published on gov.ie/LeavingCertificate for students, teachers and parents • Advice from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) in relation to the wellbeing and mental health of Leaving Certificate students in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ends, For further information please contact Brendan on 087-6528841