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Calls for 24 hour community guard as Luke Kelly statues vandalised

Docklands statue of singer vandalised for sixth time in a year

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A man cleans the statue of Luke Kelly on the corner of Guild Street and Sheriff Street after it was vandalised again
Pic: Mark Condren

A man cleans the statue of Luke Kelly on the corner of Guild Street and Sheriff Street after it was vandalised again Pic: Mark Condren

A man cleans the statue of Luke Kelly on the corner of Guild Street and Sheriff Street after it was vandalised again Pic: Mark Condren

The Luke Kelly statue in the heart of his native Dublin docklands has been vandalised with paint again overnight - the sixth time it has come under attack.

The iconic statue of the singer and folk musician was daubed with white paint at around 11pm last night.

This comes as the second statue of the singer, located on South King St, was also vandalised with white paint.

Local councillor and former Lord Mayor Christy Burke has now called for a 24 hour community guard on the docklands statue, which was unveiled in January last year.

Cllr Burke says it is not only an attack on Luke, but an attack on art and the citizens of Ireland.

“I’ll join the patrol myself, but some action has to be taken until a more long-term solution is found,” he told Independent.ie.

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A man cleans the statue of Luke Kelly on the corner of Guild Street and Sheriff Street after it was vandalised again
Pic: Mark Condren

A man cleans the statue of Luke Kelly on the corner of Guild Street and Sheriff Street after it was vandalised again Pic: Mark Condren

A man cleans the statue of Luke Kelly on the corner of Guild Street and Sheriff Street after it was vandalised again Pic: Mark Condren

A garda spokesperson told Independent.ie that they are investigating the incident.

"Gardaí are investigating an act of criminal damage to a statue which occurred on King's Street, Dublin in the early hours of the 24th June 2020. No arrest have been made," the spokesperson said in a statement this morning.

The statue of the famous Dubliners singer is situated beside the Royal Canal near his former Sheriff Street home.

But it has repeatedly been vandalised with paint and was last attacked on June 1, leading to fresh criticism from local representatives who have called it a crime against a community.

During the last incident the culprits painted red glasses on Kelly’s face and wrote F*** You Luke on the plinth.

In previous attacks black paint has been used to carry out similar vandalism.

The statue was first attacked in June last year, and it was targeted again in January, March and April this year.

There have been calls to move the statue entirely to a new location, but Sheriff Street residents are set to resist the idea.

Local shop owner and resident’s association spokesman Mark Fay has said it should stay where it is.

“This is where Luke was born and bred and went to school. The people of Guild Street, Sheriff Street and the North Wall are very proud of Luke, and moving his statue would turn the whole thing into a Where’s Wally scenario,” he has said.

“Luke should stay, and if the statue of his head was put on a taller plinth and surrounded with railings and lit-up at night it would make it more difficult to vandalise,” he suggested.

“It might not make it impossible to vandalise, but the way it is positioned now makes it just too easy for an opportunist,” Mr Fay added.

“There’s a few reasons why the statue should stay here. Luke was born in the now demolished Lattimore Cottages and then the family moved into the flats on Sheriff Street,and he went to school here too,” he explained.

“When I learn of these attacks it annoys me, and it's embarrassing. The area gets hammered and criticised and people like to stick the knife into us saying ‘they’re all the same down there’, but the people who are doing this are probably not from the area at all,” said Mark.

“I think of Luke’s brother Jimmy, who has died since, and all the planning we in the area put into getting the statue. I think about the remembrance nights we started back in 2004 or 2005, and the music playing, Jimmy singing Raglan Road, and we’d be serving ribs and coddle - great nights, and then this happens, it’s terrible,” he added.

Two men have previously been arrested in relation to two separate attacks carried out on the statue in January and March. A file is being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in each case.

The statue was first erected on Sheriff Street to mark the 35th anniversary of Luke Kelly’s death.

Kelly, who sang with The Dubliners, died on January 30 1984 at the age of 43.

The visually striking statue in the Docklands is a large marble head, topped with three thousand strands of metal hair, made by sculptor Vera Klute.

It is mounted on a large concrete plinth along the Royal Canal near Kelly’s birthplace.

The pose of Kelly, with his eyes closed, immersed in the song with his head tilted downwards, is based on a performance of the song Scorn not his Simplicity written by Phil Coulter.

Online Editors