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You prune, Gavin; EXCLUSIVE BALLY-MUDDLED SINGER SLATED OVER CLAIMS OF 'POOR DUBLIN UPBRINGING'.

Byline: By STEPHEN MAGUIRE

SINGER Gavin Friday has been branded an "idiot" after claiming that he and U2 star Bono grew up on the mean streets of Dublin's Ballymun.

The former Virgin Prunes frontman told a visiting Canadian TV crew that life was tough in Ireland long before the Celtic Tiger. He is pictured giving the TV team a tour of the infamous Ballymun Towers and meeting local people.

Gavin tells the interviewer how the area was ravaged by the scourge of drugs and that he was lucky to escape the demons of heroin.

He said: "I think being from Ballymun did one thing it made us really tough. We'd get the s**t beaten out of us when we looked a certain way and we became tough. We became slightly fearless."

During the interview, two kids outside one tower block mistake Friday for his more famous pal, but he replies:

"I'm cooler than Bono."

A clip from the interview has been posted on the YouTube website. But the two-minute clip has caused huge controversy with dozens of locals e-mailing in slamming the star's claims.

They say the pair never grew up in the working-class North Dublin area of Ballymun but in the more leafy side of the suburb nearer Glasnevin.

Gavin tells the Canadian journalist he became a musician so he could "escape from Ballymun".

He said: "This is the area we all grew up in. This gave us the energy to say we are not going to end up on the dole...we are not going to hang out and do heroin."

Angry Dubs slammed Friday on YouTube, accusing him of cashing in on the area's tough image to boost his own ego.

One local, Joe O'Conor, wrote: "The man's just a tourist in Ballymun. What an idiot."

Another outraged e-mailer says the Dublin rocker is only trying to sell the myth of being working class-come-good. He said: "Why does he continue to purvey the myth of the 'hard case from The Towers'? He's making a laughing stock of himself... It's all part of the Celtic con job."

Another simply says: "Neither Friday nor Bono ever lived in Ballymun. What an idiot."

Friday is best pals with U2 and is often pictured with Bono when he is out on the town in Dublin.

He is also friends with Corrs singer Andrea Corr and was recently spotted drinking with her in the trendy Market Bar in central Dublin, but friends said they are not romantically linked.

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Singer Gavin Friday's claims have sparked controversy in Ballymun
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Feb 18, 2007
Words:428
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