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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 29 March, 2020

Fr Ray Kelly considered leaving Dancing with the Stars after abusive threats

Kelly said he reported the incident to gardaí.

Fr Ray Kelly with pro-dancer Kylee Vincent pictured during last week's live show of Dancing with the Stars.
Fr Ray Kelly with pro-dancer Kylee Vincent pictured during last week's live show of Dancing with the Stars.
Image: Kyran O'Brien/RTÉ 

SINGING PRIEST FATHER Ray Kelly has said he considered pulling out of Dancing with the Stars after receiving threatening messages about his participation in the competition. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1′s Liveline, Kelly said he wanted to speak up about the abuse he has received since being on the show following the death of former Love Island presenter Caroline Flack last Saturday

The Meath priest said his reason for speaking up about his experience is to encourage people to be kind. 

He told Joe Duffy that the abuse started back in December when rehearsals for the show were just kicking off. 

“I got the odd Christmas card from people wishing me well but there was one card that came anonymously, not signed, to remind me of what happened to John the Baptist, when a woman danced for him.” 

Fr Kelly said that after he told people about the card they likened it to a death threat as John the Baptist was beheaded and his head put on a platter. 

“As a priest for 31 years, I’ve never really experienced that level of criticism. I’ve always worked hard in the parish and been there for my parishioners no matter what parish I’ve been in,” Kelly said adding that he’s had a few other negative comments here and there.

Fr Kelly said the abuse came to a head at the end of last month when he received a phone call from a man who later left a similar threatening voice mail in which “every second word was the F word”. 

Shinawil, who produce Dancing with the Stars for RTÉ, asked Kelly not to drop out of the competition after he approached them, as it had his head “twisted”. 

The production company convinced Kelly to report the call to the gardaí but he hasn’t heard anything since. 

If you need to speak to someone, contact: 

  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Samaritans 116 123 or email
  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 18)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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About the author:

Adam Daly

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