1. ITV Report

Books of condolence open for William Dunlop

William Dunlop was one of Northern Ireland's top road racers. Credit: Pacemaker

Books of condolence have been opened to allow people to pay tribute to Northern Ireland road racer William Dunlop.

The 32-year-old, who - along with his brother Michael - had continued the Dunlop legacy established by his father Robert and uncle Joey, died in a crash during a practice session at the Skerries 100.

William Dunlop (right) with his brother Michael and dad Robert. Credit: Pacemaker

The tragic news filtered through from Co Dublin on Saturday night, stunning the motorcycling fraternity across Northern Ireland and further afield.

The prospect of yet more heartache for the family, after the death of Robert 10 years ago at the North West 200 and that of Joey in Tallinn in Estonia in 2000, struck a chord with all those familiar with the Dunlop dynasty.

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William, who became a father to daughter Ella in 2016, recently pulled out of the Isle of Man TT to be with his partner Janine who is pregnant with their second child.

Many people have already laid flowers in the Dunlop memorial garden in Ballymoney which honours William’s legendary father and uncle.

The books of condolence have been opened across the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough.

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They are available to sign in the town halls in Ballymoney and Coleraine, in the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady, and in Sheskburn House in Ballycastle.

The books will remain open until 5pm on Friday 20 June.

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Mayor Brenda Chivers said: “The entire borough has been left shocked and saddened with the tragic events that unfolded at the weekend.

“I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to the entire Dunlop family at this very sad time.

“William was a fantastic sporting legend and he will be remembered for his many achievements.”

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Motorbike racers past and present have already paid tribute to the man they remember as a quiet and humble talent.

Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty had the tragic loss in mind as they raced in World Superbike action at Misano in Italy, with Rea dedicating his win to William.

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Other figures from across the sporting landscape also expressed sadness and extended their sympathies to the Dunlop family, from boxer Carl Frampton, to golfers Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, footballer Stuart Dallas, and rugby player Tommy Bowe.

Celebrity bike fans like actor Charley Boorman, chef James Martin, model Jodie Kidd and Emmerdale star Dominic Brunt also shared their sorrow at the news.

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William Dunlop will be laid to rest following his funeral service at Garryduff Presbyterian Church at 1pm on Wednesday.

His body is expected to return home to his grieving family later on Monday.

Bikers pay tribute to William Dunlop in the Dunlop memorial garden in Ballymoney. Credit: Pacemaker