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Shock and sadness at passing of Craig Breen



World Rally Championship driver Craig Breen, a former winner of the Rally of the Lakes, lost his life in a tragic testing accident today.

Craig, who was 33, was Ireland’s top rally driver and a full-time professional competing with the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team in the World Rally Championship.

A prodigious karter in his younger years, Breen started competing in rallying in 2006 as a co-driver before making the switch to the drivers’ seat in 2008.

His rise thereafter was nothing short of spectacular. In 2009 he made his first foray into the World Rally Championship, winning his class and finishing 25th overall on Rally Portugal. In that same year, Craig won both the Irish and UK Fiesta Sporting Trophies, was crowned Irish National Junior Rally Champion and won the Billy Coleman Award, the youngest driver to do so. In 2010 Breen competed in the Irish and British championships and won the Pirelli Star Driver Global Shootout Final. Winning the Pirelli Star Driver Shootout afforded Breen the chance to compete in the World Rally Championship in the WRC Academy series in 2011 which he dramatically won on the final stage of the final round netting him a €500,000 prize fund.

In 2012 Breen won the Super 2000 World Rally Championship despite the tragic death of his long time co-driver and friend Gareth Roberts in an accident half way through the season.

A factory seat with Peugeot was secured for 2013 and Breen would stay with the French marque for three seasons securing four European Rally Championship event wins including a memorable Circuit of Ireland win in 2015 which saw him emulate the 1992 feat of his motorsport hero, the late Frank Meagher. For the 2016 season, Breen signed with Citroen to drive in six rounds of the World Rally Championship. In his first season in a top car, in the top flight of the sport, he scored a memorable podium finish with a superb third place on Rally Finland.

In 2018 Breen was on the podium again, this time going one step higher with a second place in Rally Sweden.

Without a factory contract for 2019, Breen returned to Ireland and reunited with co-driver Paul Nagle with the pair having pulled together a deal to tackle the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. They dominated the series winning the Galway, West Cork, Killarney, Easter Stages and Ulster rallies while also winning the iconic San Remo and Ypres rallies on the continent. A call up to Hyundai half way through the season would see a return to top flight competition and despite truncated campaigns with the Korean manufacturer, Breen was always on the pace and regularly on the podium including three consecutive podiums in three events (Estonia, Ypres and Finland) in 2021.

The lure of a full-time seat with M-Sport as the sport entered a new hybrid era was too much for Breen to turn down but after a strong start to the season in Monte Carlo, results were hard to come by and Breen returned to Hyundai for 2023 taking another second place on his first event back with the team in Sweden.

Whenever he got the chance, Craig still continued to compete on local events in Ireland and in recent months, support younger drivers. Earlier this year a sponsorship deal was announced that would see him directly supporting the Junior 1000 category within the Sligo Pallets Forest Rally Championship and as recently as last Tuesday, he attended a J1000 tuition day where 18 young drivers got to meet and learn from their hero. Craig was a model competitor and there was no greater advocate for Irish motorsport.

Speaking on today’s tragic news Motorsport Ireland President said; “The Irish motorsport community is numbed by this tragic news. Craig was a world class driver and a world class person. To Craig’s family, his parents Ray and Jackie, his sister Kellie, brother-in-law Darragh and nephew Bobbie, I wish to extend my deepest condolences and all our thoughts remain with Craig’s co-driver James Fulton. May they all find the strength and support they need at this unimaginably tragic time.”



Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes



Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.

The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.

Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.

The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.

“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.


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Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate



By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

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