Sorry Gerry, you’re just too radical for Che!

Hmmm… the Victoria and Albert Museum have a deemed an invitation to Gerry Adams the opening of an exhibition dedicated to the South American “revolutionary and icon” Che Guavara to be inappropriate. Shome mishtake, surely? Hat tip to Markkus!

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  • Garibaldy

    Mick you’ve misspelt Che’s last name. And to suggest that Adams (who showed Jess Helms of the infamous anti-Cuban Helms-Burton Act round west Belfat personally) is somehow radical in a Che-type way is as ridiculous as him creating a storm about this. Anything for a bit of cheap publicity.

  • Mick Fealty

    Amended Gari. Why do you think it would be inappropriate to have Adams there?

  • Nicholas Pugachev

    Che’s granny was of Irish origin & Lynch by name.

  • Pete Baker


    The Guardian’s a bit late on this story.. we had it covered at the start of the week –

    Beware Comparisons

    Interesting that Duncan Campbell quotes Adams speaking yesterday.. perhaps it was when the piece was written?

    But Ms Ziff seems a bit confused in her complaint –

    Ms Ziff remains dismayed. “It’s extraordinary,” she said. “The V&A have tried to turn it all [the Guevara exhibition] into just a design image and remove the resonance from it all.

    After all, as I noted at the time.. this is what the V&A Museum says about itself –

    The purpose of the Victoria and Albert Museum is to enable everyone to enjoy its collections and explore the cultures that created them; and to inspire those who shape contemporary design.

  • Markkus

    Che Lynch doesn’t really have the same ring to it.

    I don’t know if it’s accurate to suggest that Adams is creating a storm. What is questionable is the attitude of the V&A’s management who have got themselves a little tied in knots with this one. “… the museum had a policy of not inviting people affiliated to any political party. However, it turns out that Ken Livingstone, London’s Labour mayor, has been invited.”

    Sure, Gerry’s no Che Guevara, but then Che wasn’t really all he was cracked up to be either.


  • Garibaldy

    I think it’s inappropriate because it’s an infantile attempt to suggest that Adams is somehow a figure of comparable standing, and because it suggests that his politics are linked to those of Che Guevara. If other politicians were being invited then fine, but it seems that apart from Mayor Livingstone that’s not the case. So implicitly Adams is seen as representing the revolutionary tradition.

    I’m not one of those who blindly hero-worships Che. While someone I admire, I think he made numerous mistakes, and should have stayed to build a better Cuba instead of trundling off all round the globe to fight in hopeless situations. He had a touch of the voluntarist and Maoist about him, in my humble opinion.

    As for Adams and Cuba. Yes, he’s met Fidel, and PSF likes to boast of its links to Cuba, with several of its people living out there, and delegates to their conferences etc. However, as I’ve pointed out above with the Helms issue, this is a matter of posture rather than substance. Take a look at the Che mural in west Belfast. It’s painted off the main Falls Road, away from the prying eyes of American tourists, and if I remember correctly now has a fence stuck in front of it anyway. Remember Adams’ links not only to the White House but also to extreme right wing republicans who hate Cuba.

    It’s not as if the Cubans are unaware of any of this. Fidel might meet Adams, but this is because in its position Cuba has adopted a policy of welcoming support from all quarters, be it Danish social democrats, American Christians, Trotskyists, anarchists, or even right wing Americans who oppose the blockade on free market grounds. Adams represents a large movement, with MPs and TDs. That makes him important. It doesn’t mean that the Cubans think that he shares their politics, or is a progressive force.

    It’s the idiocy of those who do think that Adams is somehow comparable to Che that winds me up about this V&A thing. It’s completely symptomatic of the vacuous nature of the analysis of Northern Ireland of huge chunks of the British left (and for supposedly intelligent people in Ireland to believe the Jim Cusack line that the Provos are wish to imitate the Cubans is worse). As though a populist Catholic nationalist from an organisation that boasted in American of killing Irish communists is the same thing as an internationalist socialist revolutionary. For Adams to say that Che would be unwelcome because he is makes me want to vomit.

    So, in short Mick, I guess I think it’s inappropriate to suggest that Adams’ politics in any way reflect those of Cuba, and that it’s in extremely poor taste for Adams to turn this into an opportunity for cheap publicity as though he himself is a figure of world-historical significance.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Adams was invited by the exhibition’s curator Trisha Ziff, who as stated is a friend of his. The V&A withdrew the invitation, Ms Ziff is furious and Adams has asked why?

    No comparisons between Adams and Che; no comparisons of their politics; no hint of who or what Adams is meant to represent. Some people have read a little too much into this.

  • mickhall


    I take your point about Gerry Adams lack of radical credentials, but the reason he was invited according to the collator of the exhibition on Che is that he is a friend of hers. I see a political input here and if I were Adams I would find his exclusion worrying. The gofers within the British establishment who run organizations like the V@AM have their ear to the ground, not surprising as they are at the heart of the British Establishment and that is why they get the jobs after all. So this rejection tells us all the welcoming of Mr Adams at Downing Street and within the head offices of various media outlets is nothing more than real politics. Behind closed doors he is still regarded as a Belfast corner boy who has over stepped the mark by a long ‘shot’.

    For me this rejection is far more revealing than all the photo opportunities at the door of number ten, on the steps of Stormont or the White House, let alone a hand shake on a Belfast Street corner. Once he has served his purpose, like Arafat before him, is Gerry for the chop. Perhaps the McGuinness kerfuful was a trial run?

    What a world to live and work in ahh.

  • Harboy

    “The first thing we should note is that through my son’s veins flowed the blood of Irish rebels”

    Ernesto Guevara, 1969 (many scources available)

    So the family was aware and proud of the link not just to the Irish but specificially to Irish rebels.

    Maybe it’s the Miss Selfridge models from the 1960s who aren’t appropriate?

  • irelands32

    Inappropriate for Adams to be there??? hmmm

    This line at the end of the article kinda hit me right between the eyes

    “Among items for sale during the exhibition will be a Che finger puppet, Che chocolate cigar, Che doll and Che cigar box as well as T-shirts, stickers, neon signs and badges.”

    Sorry what was ‘inappropriate’ again?

    Oh the irony

  • spartacus


    question: when did ga tour jesse helms around west belfast? not in my memory, though i’m open to being corrected.

  • Garibaldy

    I can’t remember the year. Certainly after the Helms-Burton Act was passed (which was 1996), maybe 1998 I think, but I really can’t remember. I remember it happening, and discussing it with a Cuban who was in Belfast not long afterwards, that’s how I found out about it. Funnily enough, it wasn’t top of the list of PSF press releases.
    I realise this isn’t very helpful or definite on the dates. I’ve tried google quickly, and Helms’ website, but nothing. So as I say, this was something I heard during a conversation with a Cuban government person.

  • Reader

    Pat McLarnon: Adams was invited by the exhibition’s curator Trisha Ziff, who as stated is a friend of his. The V&A withdrew the invitation, Ms Ziff is furious and Adams has asked why?
    Because it’s not right to spend public money junketing your friends, either? Especially the more shady ones…

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Because it’s not right to spend public money junketing your friends, either? Especially the more shady ones…’

    If that is the excuse then let the V&A say so ,it would help counter the ramblings of garabaldy et al who have read in a set of circumstances that are not available from the article quoted.

  • Reader

    Pat McLarnon : If that is the excuse then let the V&A say so
    The reason I gave was good enough for me. I’m not at all sure that the V&A was ever going to put out a press release saying that Gerry was too shady to be nodded through the V&A lobby on the way to nibble sandwiches with Ms Ziff and the Art and Design crowd. They’ll all just have to manage without the whiff of cordite.

  • spartacus

    never mind reader, pat. just a troll on a long leash from harry’s place.

    an objection to spending public funds on shady characters? you’ve got a war criminal for a pm, reader. self-righteousness should begin at home, don’t you think? how’s the whiff of haditha sit with your senses?

  • Reader

    spartacus: you’ve got a war criminal for a pm, reader.
    So take him to court and prove it. But he’s not on the V&A invitation list either, is he?

  • peter

    gerry adams should not have been excluded as he was included as a friend. could somebody fill me in on this exhibition. it sounds to me that it is suited for those art crowd who che would not have time for. he would have been volunteering at the docks rather than take part in an activity such as this. Gerry adams may take note and not be offended about being snubbed by the establishment. republicans are not part of this and and should not long to be.

  • Pete Baker

    Except, peter, the option of Adams as a personal guest of Ms Ziff was available according to the earlier report – noted above.. but someone wanted an official invitation.. for the scrapbook?

  • Garibaldy

    Che believed in bringing cultural delights to the masses, as the Cuban government does today. Reverse snobbery leads to anti-intellectualism, which only harms the interest of working people.

    As for Adams being invited as a friend only, the curator has being addressing this question in political terms. Apparently Adams stopped believing in violence since around 1980. A great comfort to those who lost people afterwards.

    A lot of stuff around Che is infantile in the extreme, and this whole thing is keeping up that fine tradition