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Man (47) accused of spray-painting statue of Luke Kelly

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Bailed: Michael Dunne (47) yesterday appeared in court on one charge of criminal damage to the singer’s memorial. Photo: Collins Courts

Bailed: Michael Dunne (47) yesterday appeared in court on one charge of criminal damage to the singer’s memorial. Photo: Collins Courts

Bailed: Michael Dunne (47) yesterday appeared in court on one charge of criminal damage to the singer’s memorial. Photo: Collins Courts

A man has appeared in court accused of vandalising the inner-city Dublin statue of singer Luke Kelly, which was defaced in a spray paint attack.

Michael Dunne (47) was before Dublin District Court after being arrested over the latest damage to the sculpture, which has been repeatedly targeted by vandals since it was unveiled last year.

Mr Dunne, with an address at the Sophia Housing Project in Sean McDermott Street in Dublin's north inner city, is charged with one count of criminal damage last Sunday, July 12. He is not accused of any of the other vandalism incidents.

Judge Ann Ryan granted him bail on condition that he stays away from the Luke Kelly statue in Guild Street in the Docklands.

Objecting to bail, Garda David Kelly said the statue was damaged by blue spray paint at 4.45pm on Sunday. He said there were 13 separate CCTV clips from official garda cameras, and inside and outside the building where the accused resides.

Mr Dunne was seen in the general area for a period before the incident and returning to his home where he entered the apartment, wearing clothing matching that of the person who damaged to the statue, Gda Kelly alleged.

The footage showing the damage being caused was of "very good quality" and had been viewed by a community garda who identified Mr Dunne. In a search of the accused's address, clothing seized was an "exact match" for that worn by the person who committed the offence, Gda Kelly said.

Jenny McGeever, defending, said the proposed evidence was that her client was seen in the general area but he did not live "a million miles away".

Mr Dunne would say the clothing that was seized was not a match for what was seen on the footage, she said.

Ms McGeever said the damage was caused by blue spray paint and "nothing of that ilk was found on my client or in his property".

The clothing had yet to be forensically examined, the court heard.

"It is not a clear-cut case in my view," Ms McGeever said and she asked the judge to set aside any notoriety that had built up around the case.

Judge Ryan said the accused was presumed innocent and the case was likely to remain in the District Court. 

The judge asked Mr Dunne if he would abide by conditions including staying away from the statue.

"No problem at all," he replied.

Remanding him on bail to September 8, the judge said Mr Dunne must also stay away from another Luke Kelly statue, near St Stephen's Green, Dublin.

Sunday's incident was the seventh time the €80,000 Guild Street sculpture was vandalised since it was unveiled by President Michael D Higgins in January 2019 on the 35th anniversary of the Dubliners singer's death.

Irish Independent