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'Luke belongs here, don't move him over vandals'

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Mark Fay with the statue of Luke Kelly which has been vandalised five times

Mark Fay with the statue of Luke Kelly which has been vandalised five times

Mark Fay with the statue of Luke Kelly which has been vandalised five times

Sheriff Street residents are set to resist the idea of moving the statue of Luke Kelly to a different location after it was vandalised with paint for the fifth time.

The statue of the iconic Dubliners singer was unveiled in the heart of the city's Docklands in January last year beside the Royal Canal near his former Sheriff Street home.

But it has repeatedly been vandalised with paint and was sprayed again on Friday, leading to fresh criticism from local representatives who have called it a crime against a community.

During the incident the culprits painted red glasses on Kelly's face and wrote "F*** You Luke" on the concrete plinth.

In previous attacks black paint has been used to carry out similar vandalism. The statue was first targeted in June last year, and again in January, March and April this year.

Proud

The repeated attacks have led to calls by some local representatives to have the statue moved, but local shopowner and residents' association spokesman Mark Fay said it should stay.

"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 told the Herald.

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Luke Kelly, who died in 1984

Luke Kelly, who died in 1984

Luke Kelly, who died in 1984

"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 said.

"It might not make it impossible to vandalise, but the way it is positioned now makes it just too easy for an opportunist.

"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.

"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.

"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."

Two men were arrested on Monday 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's death. He died on January 30, 1984, at just 43.

The striking piece was made by sculptor Vera Klute The pose, with his eyes closed immersed in song and head tilted downwards, is based on a performance of Scorn Not His Simplicity, written by Phil Coulter.