In Australia, the news that the bones of Ned Kelly have been positively identified through DNA testing is a big deal. Kelly, who The New York Times compared to "Jesse James, Thomas Paine and John F. Kennedy rolled into one," ranks somewhere between Robin Hood and the Road Warrior in Australian lore. Known as much for the makeshift armor he wore to fight police as for his bravado in opposing what many considered to be an oppressive British authority, Kelly is seen by some as a hero and harassed Catholic and by others as a simple killer. But nobody there sees him as insignificant. So when the news came that his skeleton, discovered decades ago at a Melbourne prison, had been positively identified, the question for Australians quickly became, what do we do with it?
Those family members are among the parties arguing over how to put Kelly's remains to rest. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Friday (local time) that the great grandson of one of the policemen Kelly killed did not want his remains to be placed in a grave that could become a shrine. Victorian Police Association president Greg Davies, speaking to The Australian, concurred. "Let's remember he's a triple murderer. Let's not create a shrine where the feeble-minded can go and lionise someone who clearly doesn't deserve to be," he said.
The Victorian state government reportedly wants to put the bones on display, a plan that appalled members of Kelly's own family. "To do that would be recreating something out of medieval times," Kelly's great-nephew Anthony Griffiths told the Australian Broadcasting Company. "This plan is macabre and disgusting." The former chaplain of Pentridge prison, where the Gaol's remains were reburied, has said the family should control what happens to Kelly's remains. "In recent times, some family members have suggested that an appropriate resting place would be beside his father, Red Kelly, in the Greta cemetery in country Victoria," he told News.com.au. "The Australian community should now respectfully allow the Kelly descendants to make that decision."