By BRIAN MOORE
A RUSSIAN youth choir has been stopped from coming to West Cork, because it needed to travel through the UK.
The choir was on its way to take part in two special performances in West Cork thisÂ weekend, but was denied transit through the UK by its own government.
The Stavros Youth Choir from Samara in southeast Russia had been preparing for their concerts in Castletownshend and Durrus for many months and were looking forward to their trip to Ireland.
But, having taken a flight from Samara to Moscow they were refused permission to board a BA flight to London.
âWe have been bringing students to Ireland every summer from Samara to learn English here in West Cork,' concert organiser Brendan Molloy told The Southern Star. âWe have never had this problem before and frankly we don't understand what the problem is.'
The 24 students, ranging in age from 16 to 20, and their teachers, were informed when they arrived at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport that they could not travel through the UK.
âThis is something completely new,' said Brendan. âWe have never had to organise these visas before and frankly I can't understand where all this has come from. We are trying to get information so that we can sort this out now, but we have had no choice other than to cancel the concerts.'
The two concerts were to take place at St Barrahane's Church in Castletownshend on Saturday August 19th and at St James' Church in Durrus on Sunday August 20th.
âI hope that we will be able to reschedule these concerts for the near future and we will continue to build links between Samara and West Cork,' Brendan added.