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Dancing priest in court over Grand Prix 'stunt'

A 56-YEAR-OLD Irish priest was remanded in custody when he appeared in court yesterday accused of attempting to disrupt the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Kerry-born Fr Neil Horan, of Howbury Road, Nunhead, south east London, is facing one count of aggravated trespass following the incident at the Northamptonshire circuit on Sunday.

No plea was entered and magistrates in Northampton adjourned the case for seven days.

Fr Horan spoke only to confirm his full name, Cornelius Horan, age and address during the brief hearing. His next appearance before the court will be via video-link from prison.

Applying unsuccessfully for bail, Fr Horan's solicitor said he was on sabbatical and a man of "strong and moral views on religion".

The priest appeared in the dock wearing a grey tank top, white shirt and grey trousers and was flanked by two security guards.

Fr Horan is alleged to have tried to disrupt the race which was eventually won by the Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello.

He got on to one of the fastest sections of the track, the Hangar Straight. Some cars were forced to take evasive action and swerve.

Millions of TV viewers worldwide watched as the man dressed in a kilt ran on to the track waving religious placards. He was eventually wrestled to the ground by a marshall and arrested.

Fr Horan, a former student of St Brendan's College in Killarney, is no stranger to the media with his 'peace dances'. He is originally from Knockeenahone, Scartaglin, south Kerry.

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His trademark outfit is a kilt, ginger wig, Roman collar and Star of David. His slogan is: "The Bible says: 'War is sent by God!'"

Last year he wrote to Saddam Hussein offering to perform his peace dance for him and his family.

During the Iraq war he donned his Irish dancing costume and performed his peace dance outside the House of Commons.

"I'm no Michael Flatley but it's not a question of expertise - it's a question of doing what you have a talent for and entertaining people," he has said.

Fr Horan, who has been suspended from priestly duties, was ordained by Bishop Eamonn Casey at St Mary's Cathedral, Killarney in June 1973. His first posting was to the parish of Bexley, Kent.

While in England he attended a lecture by a biblical sect which he says changed his life.

According to Fr Horan, Christ will return as a senior Israeli army officer and go on to rule the world from Jerusalem.

He has also predicted that the end of the world will happen shortly but his native place on the Cork/Kerry border is guaranteed a spot in the post-Armageddon universe.

"Kerry people can be justly proud of their music. That sort of music will certainly have a great part to play in the New Kingdom," he said recently.

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