A waxwork sculpture of Gerry Adams has been described as “strange” and “extremely hurtful” by relatives of IRA victims.
The Sinn Fein president’s likeness was unveiled yesterday in Dublin at a ceremony in the privately-owned National Wax Museum Plus, attended by Mr Adams himself.
Ann Travers noted that Mr Adams appears to have been trying to cultivate an increasingly “cuddly” image – but that those who know the Troubles can see through this.
Mr Adams’ sculpture is housed in the vault of a former bank off Dame Street, next to the museum’s Chamber of Horrors section – although a relative of Disappeared victim Jean McConville suggested that the Chamber of Horrors would actually be the most appropriate place for him.
The work will form part of an exhibition of famous figures from the Province’s recent past, many of whom have been involved with the peace process.
When told about the artwork, Mrs Travers – sister of IRA murder victim Mary – reacted with surprise, before saying: “I find this extremely hurtful.”
Mrs Travers – whose sister was shot dead in 1984 during a failed murder attempt against her father – added: “I’m quite disgusted. It [the waxwork museum] won’t be something I’ll be going to...
“I think it does show an absolute lack of regard and a lack of understanding of what is still going on in Northern Ireland.”
It was “far too close to the Troubles” to display IRA supporters like Mr Adams, she said.
It was put to her that museums will often have sculptures of major historic figures, such as Hitler.
She replied that this is “fair enough”, but that it is “wise” to remember victims too.
She said: “I would love to see them do maybe victims, and do waxworks of them, and catch those expressions that’ll show the hurt of these very real events that happened here, and that we’re all still living with.”
Mrs Travers recalled that such an exhibition – put together by Co Down painter Colin Davidson – had recently taken place at the Ulster Museum, featuring portraits of those who had lost loved ones during the Troubles.
She also mentioned the fact that last year Mr Adams gained media attention for announcing that he enjoys trampolining with his dog.
Last week he launched a book based on a raft of zany and inane comments he had made on the website Twitter.
“It is just adding to this cuddly image that Gerry Adams would like us all to believe of him,” she said.
“And people who lived in the north, and lived through the Troubles, know a completely different Gerry Adams.”
Seamus McKendry, son-in-law of Disappeared victim Jean McConville and founder of the group Families of the Disappeared, said: “It is strange, I must admit.”
He added: “The sad thing about it all is that they can’t put one of Jean McConville up, because nobody can tell what she looked like when she died.”
Mr Adams was questioned by police about the mother-of-10’s disappearance and murder in 2014.
He was released without charge. He has denied involvement in her 1972 kidnap and murder.
Mr McKendry said of the new waxwork: “I think it’s quite appropriate that a dummy should be portrayed as such, you know?”
He wondered whether Mr Adams was being displayed in the horror section.
Asked if that is where he was suggesting he should be, Mr McKendry said: “I think he should, of course.”
Ultimately he did not feel it to be hurtful and said that he would like to go and see it, adding: “It is right that infamy should be portrayed.”
Lisa Jameson, general manager of the museum, expressed regret about “what has happened over the years in the north”.
“But it was the peace process that came, I suppose, after that [which] is what we’re trying to re-create,” she said.
“And Gerry Adams was obviously a figure within that. So it’s telling the history and the story. It’s impartial if you like...
“That’s all that were doing here, like any other museum would.”
Miss Jameson added: “A tribute to victims would be something to be considered, absolutely. Because, as I said, that is part of the issue and part of the reality of it.”
She was also asked if, for example, they would consider creating a waxwork of senior loyalist figure Jackie McDonald – who has also been supportive of the peace process – and said: “That’s something I’d have to discuss with the directors here.”
She added: “It’s the peace process is what that actual scene is about. It’s not belittling what did happen, or anything like that.
“We’re just recognising the people who were involved in the peace process, and that’s all that scene or that exhibition are about.”