New Rose of Tralee 'racially abused' in takeaway as Gardaí launch investigation
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New Rose of Tralee 'racially abused' in takeaway as Gardaí launch investigation

GARDAÍ are investigating claims that the new Rose of Tralee was subjected to racist abuse at a chipper in Co. Kilkenny.

Kirsten Maté Maher, the first ever Irish-African Rose, says she was verbally attacked during a night out in Kilkenny town on Sunday.

The incident - involving both Waterford Rose Maher, who is of mixed-race, and her boyfriend - is alleged to have occurred at a takeaway on John Street at around 3am.

It's understood that the couple were buying food when they were accosted by two males who subjected Maher to racial abuse.

Gardaí were called to the scene and took statements from those present.

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A Garda spokeswoman said: "Gardaí in Kilkenny are aware of an alleged incident that occurred in a fast food restaurant on John Street, Kilkenny on Sunday 26 August 2018 at approximately 3am.

"Inquiries are on going."

In a statement, the Rose of Tralee festival said: "Regrettably, Kirsten has been subjected to racial abuse from people in the past and it is something that she and many others in Ireland have to deal with on a regular basis."

Maher emerged victorious at the 59th Rose of Tralee festival last week, becoming the third Waterford Rose to claim the title and the first Irish-African winner ever.

The 21-year-old, a student and part-time model who grew up in Kilkenny, has admitted that she's regularly asked if she's "actually Irish".

Speaking after her triumph last week, Maher said it was "mad" that people were focusing on her mixed-race roots.

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"I am proud of my Zambian roots and I want to bring that across and I want everyone to know that I am half-Zambian, but you shouldn’t be focusing in on the fact that I am tanned or that my hair is a little bit different because there are actually Irish people with curly hair like me," she said.

"It’s mad that we have to be surprised when there is a person of colour or a mixed-race person in the Rose of Tralee because so many people in Ireland are mixed.

"I don’t think it’s anything that I should be singled out by, definitely not anymore."