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'We want to protect the Luke Kelly statue, not remove it', says council

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The statue of Luke Kelly was targeted by vandals last month

The statue of Luke Kelly was targeted by vandals last month

The statue of Luke Kelly was targeted by vandals last month

Dublin City Council is liaising with gardai on how best to protect the €80,000 statue of the late musician Luke Kelly, which has been vandalised four times in just over a year.

The statue, one of two placed in Dublin and designed by artist Vera Klute, was most recently defaced last month.

On all occasions, the statue has been painted with black or red paint in the shape of glasses.

Every time the statue has had to been cleaned - by the company P MAC Cleaning and Restoration services - the cost has been €240 plus VAT.

The statue stands at the corner of Guild Street and Sheriff Street at the mouth of the Royal Canal - close to Kelly's childhood home.

"The council is examining options to reduce the chance of this vandalism occurring again and are also liaising with the gardai on how best to protect the sculpture," a council spokesperson said.

At the time of the most recent vandalism, calls were made for the statue to be moved, but it is hoped this can be avoided.

Former Dublin lord mayor and Independent councillor for Dublin Central, Christy Burke, who lives close by, said: "It would be heartbreaking to see the statue leaving the area on the back of a truck.

Wrong

"Where the statue is located is where Luke Kelly grew up and it would be so wrong for it to be moved.

"Senior council management are in talks with the gardai, Luke's family and the artist on how best to protect the statue instead of moving it. It would be like a type of eviction.

"No one wants to genuflect to the thuggery that's being perpetrated on the statue.

"Everyone in the community, gardai, family and council will do whatever they need to do to keep it protected.

"After all, Luke was a great ambassador for the area, Dublin and country as not only was he a wonderful musician, but a poet and civil rights activist," said Mr Burke.

The statue was unveiled on the 35th anniversary of the 43-year-old singer's death by President Michael D Higgins in January last year.

The work was commissioned by the council in 2014 when Mr Burke was elected as mayor.

The statue is a 1.8-metre-high marble bust, with copper wire used for Kelly's trademark beard.

Ruairi O Cuiv, the public art manager with the council, has said that moving the statue from its canal basin setting may not be the best option as it is site-specific.

Fan

The second privately paid-for statue is designed and created by John Coll, who created the sculptures of poet Patrick Kavanagh and playwright Brendan Behan.

The statue, located close to the National Conference Centre, cost €80,000 and was paid for by the huge Luke Kelly fan and friend, the late Gerry Hunt, who died last year at the age of 82.

Mr Hunt refused to take a holiday for 15 years, so he could save to pay for a statue he believed the singer deserved.