Sharkey in 2014
|Known for||Painting, Drawing, political activism, aspiring Irish Presidential Candidate|
Kevin Sharkey (born 1961) is an Irish artist, political activist, former television presenter and actor. He sought a nomination to run in the 2018 Irish presidential election, but withdrew his bid on 17 September 2018.
Sharkey was born in Dublin in St. Patrick's Mother and Baby Home on the Navan Road in 1961, but was brought up in Killybegs, County Donegal. His birth father was a Nigerian student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and his birth mother was of Irish descent. With no state supports available for single parents, adoption was the societal norm. Kevin was adopted by the Sharkey family at a very young age. As a child he took part in Irish dancing, which won him 37 medals before the age of 12. He was also a runner-up in the all Ireland Disco dancing championship at Zhivago nightclub at the age of 16.
Sharkey says his relationship with his adoptive parents was sometimes abusive, eventually resulting in him being put into foster care when aged 12. Sharkey was sent to live at St Joseph's Industrial School in Salthill, Galway, until he was 16, where he witnessed sexual abuse against young pupils by Christian Brothers staff. He suffered physical abuse; the school was the subject of a police investigation in 1996, and a national scandal.
However, it was during his stay at St. Joseph's that Sharkey discovered his passion for painting. Sharkey says that it provided him with a sense of escapism. His art career began at the age of 30, when he experimented with oils on canvas and bright colours.
Sharkey has had many different career paths, including being a chef, a fisherman, a singer-songwriter and a TV presenter. He was Ireland's first ever bi-racial television presenter on a show called Megamix, and presented British television music show The Roxy from 1987. He was also briefly a photographer and a model, photographed by David Bailey.
Sharkey regularly collaborated with Irish rock band, The Boomtown Rats, and German disco group Boney M., writing lyrics and melodies for both. He wrote the latter group's 1989 single Everybody Wants to Dance Like Josephine Baker.
Sharkey had a small part in Father Ted where he played a priest named Father Shaft in two episodes. His most famous line, coming after a nun asked him what he thought of all the work being done in Africa by priests, was "How should I know, I'm from Donegal". Sharkey was also a farmhand in the Irish TV series Celebrity Farm where he was the fourth farmhand to be evicted. Sharkey's difficult relationship with the other celebrity contestants was the subject of news media attention. He refused to join cast members on a reunion show on RTE One's The Late Late Show, choosing to appear on the rival network, TV3's the Dunphy Show instead.
Irish singer and songwriter Bob Geldof was the first person to buy a Sharkey painting, with other collectors of his work including Charles Saatchi, Rosie Huntington Whitley, Michael Portillo, Courtney Love, Whitney Houston, Matt Lucas, and the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins.
Sharkey has been a full-time artist since 1992. He was described by Ireland's Sunday Independent as "A True Irish Legend" and by Sky News as "Pure Genius", he and his provocative canvas painting "You May Now Kiss the Groom", was also listed on CNN's "Monday's Intriguing people" in 2010 for its proposition of Gay Marriage. His art is considered abstract, modern work, with bright, textured colours. His style is also regarded as stylistically diverse with many of his works being visually different from each other.
He has had exhibitions in Dublin, London, Ibiza, Amsterdam and New York City. In 2007 his What Colour Are Kisses? exhibition sold out completely within 48 hours. He has had gallery shows solely dedicated to his work in Dublin, Donegal, Mayo, Boyle, Ibiza and London's Mayfair. His painting Roisin raised €26,100 in 2008 for People in Need in the RTÉ Telethon. His work has included, Samantha Mumba's bust and 'Moolah' (a life sized cow covered in €18,000 of real banknotes – during the height of Ireland's Celtic Tiger phenomenon). Sharkey paintings were also included in the music video of Estelle and Kanye West's 2008 hit single, American Boy
His Public Enemy Number One exhibition was on a twelve date tour of the world (including New York, Tokyo, Rome and Rio de Janeiro). The public figures featured in the exhibition included Jordan as Myra Hindley, Barack Obama wearing Ku Klux Klan robes (made from U.S. flags), the Pope marrying a gay couple, and Angelina Jolie & Madonna passing each other in a supermarket aisle pushing trolleys full of multi-racial children.
In 2013, Sharkey filed a lawsuit against Octagon Films and Irish broadcast network RTE for unauthorized use of his artwork in Irish crime series "Love/Hate". He also filed for damages over the portrayal of his work being "liked by a dangerous killer and drug addict". The case was eventually settled out of court in late 2014 
Arrest and crime
In August 2016, he was arrested in Dublin over alleged art theft. Sharkey denied these allegations as the purportedly stolen painting were his. Sharkey told police that he had destroyed the paintings in 2014 because they "were inferior works of art". Claiming he set them on fire in an alleyway as "they just weren't very good and I didn't want them showing up at auction." 
In October 2016 Kevin Sharkey was ordered by a Circuit Civil Court to pay €5,000 in damages and legal fees of another €10,000 over highly defamatory Twitter comments.
In late 2005, Kevin Sharkey announced his intention to take the Irish State to the European Court of Human Rights in order to force the recognition of same-sex partnerships, specifically civil partnerships. Sharkey cited personal reasons for this, decrying the fact that if he were to marry his long-term male partner Ade Antigha in Spain (where the two were living at the time), the marriage would not be recognised by Irish law. Ireland subsequently legalised civil partnerships (in 2011) and same-sex marriage (in 2015).
In September 2013, Sharkey joined Sinn Féin. He cited the "dedication" of its then deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD as his reason for doing so. Sharkey however left the party in 2016 due his dissatisfaction with then leader Gerry Adams.
In May 2016, Sharkey voiced his opposition to Irish government spending on foreign aid, as well as the influx of immigration in Ireland.
In March 2017, Sharkey denounced the Catholic Church's role in the Tuam foster home scandal, invoking his own negative experience of the Irish foster care system at the time, mentioning sexual abuse and the existence of unmarked graves of young boarders who had died at his school in Salthill, Galway. Speaking to the Irish Sun, Sharkey stated, “We have to have these sites exhumed and go and check wherever they are.”
In the same month, Sharkey announced his opposition to current Irish immigration policy and the contentious atmosphere surrounding debate of the issue, declaring he intended to enter politics in order to open up dialogue. In the months since he made several appearances on Irish television and radio speaking out against political correctness and the perceived prioritization of immigrant citizens over native born Irish when it came to public services.
Kevin Sharkey is openly bisexual having had several long-term relationships with members of both sexes. Between 1997 and 2008, he shared a home in Ibiza with his then boyfriend Ade Antigha, an ex-police sergeant from England and former manager of Sharkey.
- "Irish presidential hopeful says Ireland should adopt Trump's 'America First' policy". IrishCentral.
- "Kevin Sharkey pulls out of Presidential race". 2018-09-17. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
- "Artist Kevin Sharkey believes homes across the country will have their own 'unmarked graves' after Tuam scandal". The Sun. 12 March 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
- "Footballer and artist may share same father - Independent.ie".
- "Dublin-born presenter Kevin Sharkey says he wants to run in the next general election". Dublin Live. 29 April 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Report on alleged abuse is withheld". The Irish Times. 2 April 1996. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
- "Kevin Sharkey - The Ray D'Arcy Show". RTE One. 31 March 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
- "'I'm homeless' - admits internationally famous Irish artist and TV star Kevin Sharkey". Irish Independent. 10 July 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Kevin Sharkey – sees the big picture". An Phoblacht. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "My Cultural Life". Irish Independent. 8 October 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Boney M – Everybody Wants To Dance Like Josephine Baker". Discogs. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "The secret lives of the priests in Father Ted". Irish Times. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- Other Productions. "Celebrity Farm". Tyroneproductions.ie.
- "Why we just love to hate RTE's reality show disasters". The Irish Independent. 23 December 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
- "PAPER PROPHET Kevin Sharkey". The Irish Independent. 11 December 2005. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
- Derek O'Connor (August 3, 2002), Sharkey gets serious, Irish Times, p. 73, retrieved November 5, 2013
- "Monday's intriguing people". CNN. 21 June 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Irish artist turns 'American Boy' thanks to a little musical support". The Irish Independent. 5 June 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
- "Kevin offers Twink one of his paintings to help debt crisis". The Herald (Ireland). 18 February 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "The secret lives of the priests in Father Ted". The Irish Times. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Artist sues 'Love/Hate' producers". Irish Independent. 5 August 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Irish Artist Suing Love/Hate After His Works Featured on the Show". Her.ie. August 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Love/Hate art drama settled out of court". The Sunday Times. 26 October 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Artist Kevin Sharkey arrested over alleged art theft". The Irish Independent. 31 August 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
- "Gay artist to take discrimination case against State". The Irish Times. 23 December 2005. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Kevin Sharkey: 'I understand the frustration behind racist attacks. I don't condone it, it's always wrong. But we live in a small country'". The Sun (United Kingdom). 7 May 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
- "Ireland's first black presenter wants to run in the next election to curb influx of immigrants". Irish Mirror. 30 April 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Claire Byrne Live - Paedophile Hunters, Brexit, Homelessness". RTE One. 20 November 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Kevin Sharkey: Having racist thoughts doesn't make you a racist". RTE One. 4 February 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Newstalk 106-108fm: The Hard Shoulder - Part 1". Newstalk. 30 January 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Balbriggan 'pushed to the edge' claims candidate Sharkey". Irish Independent. 18 March 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "'Ireland is being repopulated and it doesn't seem to matter to the powers that be who is coming' - Kevin Sharkey calls for 'open dialogue' on immigration". Irish Independent. 1 April 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "The art of overcoming the past". Irish Independent. 21 November 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Carmen is my inspiration... not my lover, explains Kevin". Irish Independent. 29 October 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2018.