Don't dare dig up Dan Kelly:family

6th July 2005 8:00 AM

By STEVE GRAY

A DESCENDANT of the Kelly family yesterday launched a blistering attack on Ipswich councillor Paul Tully for his "disgusting" call to hold an inquest into the death of Dan Kelly at the siege at Glenrowan.

Cr Tully used the 125th anniversary of the Victorian siege to again allege that Dan Kelly and Steve Hart survived and lived for many years in Queensland.

Paul O'Keefe, whose great-great-grandmother Ettie Hart was a sister to Steve Hart, and Ned Kelly's girlfriend, said the family was furious at Cr Tully's call for two bodies in Greta Cemetery to be exhumed to test his theory.

"It's absolutely disgusting that anyone would want to dig up a grave on a hunch," Mr O'Keefe said.

"To go as far as he did and lodge documents to have the bodies dug up is way over the line."

Mr O'Keefe told the QT yesterday that Kelly Gang descendants had held a crisis meeting as elderly family members struggled to absorb the possibility their relatives' bodies could be dug up and examined.

Mr O'Keefe said family members who were Catholics had been particularly upset by the call to exhume the bodies for DNA analysis.

"Imagine digging up your rellies," Mr O'Keefe said.

"I've got old aunts in nursing homes, old aunts crying.

"These people have suffered enough over the years from all the mythmakers out there. It's very upsetting.

"The Kellys are dead, dead, dead. Steve Hart and Dan Kelly died in the siege and were buried by family members who identified them. They did not escape the siege."

Mr O'Keefe said Cr Tully raised questions about the fate of gang members every couple of years "to have his 15 minutes of fame".

"He is not being very respectful to the dead and to the extended families," he said.

Mr O'Keefe said his criticism was not related to his business educating schoolchildren about the Kelly Gang, their lives and times (See www.kellygangeducational.com).

He said Cr Tully was a laughing stock among "the Kelly fraternity" of historians.

It was none of the family's business if a body in Ipswich Cemetery which Cr Tully alleges is the remains of Dan Kelly is exhumed, but the family would take every step necessary to stop the bodies in Greta Cemetery being disturbed.

"I would like to meet him face to face," Mr O'Keefe said.