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Fr Kelly alerts gardai after chilling beheading card and vile phone call

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Fr Ray Kelly with dancer Kylee Vincent on the show

Fr Ray Kelly with dancer Kylee Vincent on the show

Fr Ray Kelly with dancer Kylee Vincent on the show

Dancing With The Stars' priest Fr Ray Kelly has had to go to the gardai after receiving an abusive phone call to his parochial house.

It came after the singing cleric (66) received negative cards and letters to his home in Oldcastle, Co Meath, after his appearance on the RTE flagship programme.

While people have been surprised by the level of support from the voting public, he has also received messages calling on him to step down from the Sunday night show.

"One particular card said, 'Remember what happened to John the Baptist when a woman danced for him? He was beheaded," said Fr Kelly.

"There was one (card) last week that came in: 'Fr Ray, wouldn't it be a wonderful witness with Lent coming, if you now for the nation decided to pull out of DWTS and show the nation just the sacrifice you're making by pulling out?'"

Expletives

The cleric, who found fame in 2014 thanks to his rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah at a church wedding, was recently forced to take action after receiving a "very abusive" expletive-filled phone call to his home.

"Every second word was the 'f' word...'Priest, parish, parochial house, housekeeper...fat effing belly dancing around the floor.'

"The man left his number on the phone and his name. His number showed up on the landline. I answered the phone and went into my messages and there it was.

"An hour or two later, I was in the house and I answered the phone again. He said, 'Can I speak to Fr Ray Kelly please' and I was suspicious about it.

"I said, 'He's not here, can I take a message?' He said, 'Can you tell him from me...' and the whole spate again."

After consulting with the production team, he was advised to make a formal complaint to the gardai, which he did. "I think the man just wanted to get something off his chest," he added.

He said that it was "hard" getting such negativity and he had to work hard to not let it effect him personally.

"For a while there, I was letting it come in (to my head). As a priest, I've worked hard for 31 years.

Provocation

"I've never gotten a huge amount of criticism for anything I've done. This is going back to singing Hallelujah or doing Britain's Got Talent, I've never got any criticism."

Asked why he thought he had provoked such a strong reaction from Irish viewers, he said it could have been down to him "stepping out of my field a little bit".

However, he has vowed to carry on in the competition in the face of his detractors.

"But I was determined to go out there and enjoy it on Sunday and my line is, 'if I can go out there and put a smile on people's faces with what I do, just performing and whether it's singing and dancing, then bring it on'," he said.

As well as entering an original song into the competition to choose Ireland's entry for Eurovision 2020, he has also recorded a new album. A Garda spokesperson declined to comment.


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