New CCTV in place to deter vandals from defacing statue of Luke Kelly

The bust of Luke Kelly after it was vandalised in July

Sarah Slater

A NEW CCTV camera has been installed close to the Luke Kelly statue which has been defaced seven times since being put in place last year.

Dublin City Council had been considering the "temporary or permanent" removal of the €80,000 statue of the late musician following the most recent act of vandalism last July.

Kelly's family have said they want the marble bust to remain in place despite being vandalised so many times.

In July, blue paint was sprayed over the nose, cheeks, forehead and hair of the marble sculpture, which was publicly funded.

The modern artwork, which was unveiled by President Michael D Higgins in January last year, is located close to Kelly's childhood home at the corner of Guild Street and Sheriff Street at the mouth of the Royal Canal.

The North Wall Community Association condemned the latest attack and called for "spiked railings" to be placed around the statue.

It was erected after a 15-year battle by close friend, Independent councillor Christy Burke, to have Kelly's memory marked officially.

The work was commissioned by Dublin City Council in 2014 when Cllr Burke was elected as Mayor.

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

A council spokesperson said: "A new CCTV camera has been installed on the existing camera pole and is focused permanently on the Luke Kelly statue.

"An order has been placed for a flood light that will light up the area around the statue.

"The flood light will be fitted as soon as it is delivered."

The Council has refused to rule out the removal of the statue or finding an alternative site for it.

"Although aware of the high regard for the art work locally, serious consideration will be given in light of the most recent attacks to alternative ways of protecting this important work," the Council said.

Cleaning costs resulting from the vandalism have cost taxpayers in excess of €3,000.

There has been widespread public outrage at the repeated acts of vandalism on the statue.

The artwork was unveiled on the 35th anniversary of the singer's death at the then Richmond Hospital, on January 30, 1984.

The Dubliners singer had been diagnosed with a brain tumour several years earlier.

Cllr Burke said that while he was "pleased and relieved" that new CCTV has been installed, local residents and the council had to remain vigilant that similar "mindless acts" do not occur again.

A second privately-funded statue of Kelly designed by John Coll, which sits on South King Street, was also vandalised with paint during the summer.

Michael Dunne (47) from Sophia Housing, Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin, is charged with two counts of damage each on separate occasions under the Criminal Damage Act.

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