Tight security for Higgins during Kerry visit

All visitors to the Institute of Technology, Tralee, Co Kerry, were checked at entrance points by a private security firm, backed by upwards of 12 gardaí, during a visit of President Michael D Higgins yesterday. The event passed off without incident.

There was no sign of anti-water charge protesters and the president who launched a UNESCO chair in inclusive sport, fitness and recreation received a warm welcome.

Two years ago, the institute became the first third-level institution in the world to gain the recognition. Paralympians and Special Olympians were among at the launch at the North Campus.

The holder of the UNESCO chair is Dr Florian Kiuppis, associate professor at Lillehammer University College, Norway, in the Department of Education and Social Work. He said the aim was to empower people with disabilities and their communities and to enable society to become inclusive.

“Our mission centres on changing minds through influencing policy and changing lives through innovative practice,’’ he said.

Catherine Carty, project manager of the UNESCO chair, said: “The full and effective inclusion of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others, and their full enjoyment of physical education, sport, recreation and fitness without discrimination is an essential target of our work.”

President Higgins said the award acknowledged the institute’s significant role in advancing the protection of rights for people with disabilities.

“The institute will continue to work on the very difficult interface between ignorance and understanding, between tolerance and intolerance, between prejudice and justice and between exclusion and inclusion,” he said.

“The purpose of the chair is to advocate for policy change, conduct research, and deliver education and training to facilitate the creation of a more inclusive society, with physical education, sport, recreation and fitness acting as conduits towards the attainment of social justice.”

Meanwhile, construction of a €15m Kerry Sports Academy at the institute is expected to commence later this year.

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