Local families devastated as Chernobyl children banned from travelling

The Belarusian Government has declared a world-wide ban on Chernobyl children travelling abroad. This means that the children that normally travel to Kilkenny and Carlow each year for vital recuperation holidays will now not be permitted to do so.

Labour Councillor Sean O hArgain has called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin to intervene and seek an exemption for Ireland to allow the children to travel here as normal. He said, "the children who have been coming to Kilkenny have benefited a great deal from their visits. We have heard how the visits have been of enormous benefits to their health allowing their immune system some time to recover in our Irish environs. According to the Chernobyl Children's Project some 17,000 children have been coming to Ireland for treatment and recuperation since 1991. These children live in contaminated areas of Belarus and we cannot underestimate the health benefits of being away from that environment for a couple of weeks each year. "This has been devastating news to the Irish families who welcome the children into their home as we could hear in the emotion portrayed by one of the 'pappas' who spoke to RTE on Thursday morning. There is no justifiable reason to deny the children of Belarus their Irish visits. We also saw the wonderful contribution of young Kilkenny woman Andrea Keogh who featured in the 'Children Beyond Chernobyl' documentary typifying the work done by the Kilkenny volunteers for these children. "I am urging Minister Martin to do all that he can to have Ireland made exempt from the Belarusian Government's declaration. There is no rhyme or reason to justify this. It is the children who will suffer and we must do all we can to ensure the children can continue their visits," concluded Cllr O' hArgain."



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