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I'M NOT THE FATHER OF SINEAD'S BABY; Trad singer Damien says star is his musical hero, not lover.

Byline: JENNY McQUAILE

SINGER Damien Demp-sey denied yesterday he was the father of Sinead O'Connor's baby.

He quashed speculation that he and Sinead were lovers and about to have a child together - Sinead's third.

And he branded the rum-ours "untrue but understandable".

The 28-year-old Dubliner told the Mirror: "I am not the father of her child. I don't know who is.

"She told me the news over dinner for her son Jake's 16th birthday a couple of weeks ago.

"I obviously didn't ask who the father was in front of her children.

"But she is very happy and I am happy for her so long as she doesn't ask me to babysit for her.

"I don't want to have kids until I'm 40. I don't think I could handle the noise."

He added that he and Sinead, 36, were "just good friends".

Damien was a special guest of Sinead on her 2002/2003 UK and European tour.

She recently said of him: "As traditional Irish singers go, I don't think there's ever been anyone like him.

"In a way I think he repres-ents the sort of voice in Ireland that is not allowed to be heard."

Damien said: "Sinead has been one of the biggest influences in my music world.

"She has been a great help to me and I have gone to her on numerous occasions looking for advice.

"Playing with her has given me a great boost. Being on stage with people whose posters are on your wall is a great feeling.

"I met Sinead through my manager John Reynolds, who used to be married to Sinead.

"I have played a lot of gigs with her and she is a great girl."

Damien will be one of the headline acts at the Lisdoonvarna Festival in Dublin at the end of the month.

He is looking forward to it, but is disappointed he's playing on Stage II and not the main stage.

He said: "I'm a bit annoyed, but I suppose it means the people that will be there are the people who really want to hear me sing.

"It's great to play at the same gig as Christy Moore and The Frames.

"And if the weather is good then it should be an amazing gig."

Damien lists Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Marley, Christy Moore and Sinead O'Connor as his musical idols.

He said: "I love lots of different musicians and definitely I think if you listen to their music then some of it can sink into your songs.

"If there is a brilliant song that I love then it can influence some of my music, but of course the song will be different because it is mine.

"The highlight of my singing career so far was my last gig in The Village.

"It was amazing because the crowd was singing my songs back at me. Even after I went off stage I could hear them from the dressing room still singing for about 20 minutes.

"Sinead also sang with me that night and that was great."

Ireland's newest talent said he would hate to be as famous as U2, adding: "I love playing music but I don't want the fame.

"Just give me the money and I'll be happy.

"I would hate to be famous because you have no priv- acy and I don't see anything good about it.

"I want localised Irish fame, like what Christy Moore has, no more."

CAPTION(S):

DENIAL: Trad singer Damien has denied any romantic involvement with Sinead, inset
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 8, 2003
Words:586
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