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Jeannie Johnson could be focal point of National Famine and Immigration Interpretive Centre in Kerry

19 May, 2005

Sinn Féin North Kerry TD Martin Ferris has urged Tourism Minister John O'Donoghue to take a "brave initiative" that would not only keep the Jeannie Johnson in Kerry, but could provide a focal point of a national Famine and Immigration Interpretive Centre in Kerry. Deputy Ferris said it made perfect sense to keep the replica famine ship in Kerry were it was built and were its name sake actually sailed from 160 years ago.

Deputy Ferris said:

"I am calling on Minister John O‚Donoghue to investigate the possibility of the vessel being purchased outright by the state, so that the Jeannie Johnson can provide a striking and evocative focal point for the establishment of a national Famine and Emigration Interpretive Centre to be located in County Kerry. This would be a brave initiative that would directly benefit the economy of Fenit, Tralee and the entire county.

"It would be an absolute shame if the people of Kerry were to lose something that they put so much into, in both monetary and emotional terms. At €2.7 million, this would be a give-away for the state. If the Jeanie Johnson, with its enormous historic and cultural significance to Kerry, is to be sold to the Dublin Docklands Development Authority it will provide yet another tourist attraction for a congested capital already replete with the vast majority of the nation‚s cultural and historical attractions.

"I am calling on my Dáil colleagues in this county to put pressure on the Minister to use his influence at the cabinet table. This is a perfect opportunity for the government to show its commitment to real decentralisation. If Kerry wants to continue as the capital of tourism then the Minister must ensure that one of our prime tourist assets is not shipped off to Dublin. ENDS

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