Gerry Adams Biography and Profile, Gerry Adams Biography, Irish Republican Politician, President of Sinn Féin
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Gerry Adams Biography

Bio Synopsis

Gerry Adams, Irish Republican Politician, President of Sinn Féin, was born in West Belfast on 6 October 1948 into a family with close ties to both the trade union and republican movements. His father, Gerry senior, had been shot while taking part in an IRA attack on a police patrol in 1942 and was subsequently imprisoned. Here’s Gerry Adams Biography and Profile. Read more


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Gerry Adams Early Life

Born in West Belfast on 6 October 1948 into a family with close ties to both the trade union and republican movements, his childhood, despite its material poverty, he has described in glowing and humorous terms. For many years his voice was banned from radio and television by both the British and Irish governments, while commentators and politicians condemned him and all he stood for. He is one of the most recognisable and controversial figures in Irish politics. After 34 years as president of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams has announced his intention to step down as leader. The move marked a historic shift in the political landscape in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. Gerry Adams emerged from the turbulent history of Northern Ireland to become one the island’s foremost figures in republicanism.

To some he is hailed as a peacemaker, for leading the republican movement away from its long, violent campaign towards peaceful and democratic means. To others, he is a hate figure who publicly justified murders carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

But through those years Brandon published a succession of books which made an important contribution to an understanding of the true circumstances of life and politics in the north of Ireland. From the pogroms of 1969 to the hunger strikes of 1981, from the streets of West Belfast to the cages of Long Kesh, his powerful memoir is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand modern Ireland.

Gerry Adams Biography and Profile

Gerry Adams, former President of Sinn Féin political party between 13 November 1983 and 10 February 2018, and served as a Teachta Dála for Louth from 2011 to 2020, was born on 6 October 1948 in Ballymurphy, west Belfast, and both of his parents came from families that had been active in armed republicanism. His father, Gerry senior, had been shot while taking part in an IRA attack on a police patrol in 1942 and was subsequently imprisoned.

Influenced by his father, the young Adams became an active republican while still a teenager. He worked as a barman at the Duke of York pub in Belfast where he was fascinated by the political gossip traded among the journalists and lawyers who frequented the bar.

Gerry Adams Political Activist

As the civil rights movement gathered pace in the late 1960s, the young Adams did not spend long pulling pints. Soon he was out on the streets, involved in the protests of the time, and in 1972 he was interned – imprisoned without charge – under the controversial Special Powers Art. According to his own account, he was purely a political activist, but that same year, the IRA leadership insisted that the then 24-year-old be released from internment to take part in ceasefire talks with the British government. The talks failed and were followed by the Bloody Friday murders, when the IRA detonated at least 20 bombs across Belfast in one day, killing nine people and injuring 130.

Security sources believed Gerry Adams was a senior IRA commander at the time, but interviewed after the organisation’s formal apology 30 years on, he adamantly denied this. In 1977, he was acquitted of IRA membership. At the height of the 1981 IRA hunger strikes, he played a key role in the Fermanagh by-election in which Bobby Sands became an MP a month before his death. Two years later Gerry Adams became MP for West Belfast on an absentionist platform, meaning he would represent the constituency but refuse to take his seat in the House of Commons.

Also in 1983, he replaced Ruairí Ó Bradaigh as president of Sinn Féin. Three years later, he dropped Sinn Féin’s policy of refusing to sit in the Irish parliament in Dublin. Despite the tentative moves towards democracy, the IRA’s campaign of violence continued and Sinn Féin were considered political pariahs. In the late 1980s, Gerry Adams entered secret peace talks with John Hume, the leader of the Sinn Féin’s more moderate political rivals, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).

Gerry Adams SurvivedLoyalist Paramilitaries Gun Attack

The Hume Adams negotiations helped to bring Sinn Féin in from the political wilderness and paved the way for the peace process. But treading a line between politics and violence was risky. In 1984, Gerry Adams survived a gun attack by loyalist paramilitaries, the Ulster Freedom Fighters, in Belfast city centre. He and three companions were wounded but managed to drive to the Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment.

A second murder attempt was made at Milltown cemetery, west Belfast, in 1988 at a funeral for three IRA members. Three mourners were killed but loyalist paramilitary Michael Stone said his real targets were Adams and Martin McGuinness. The 1993 Shankill bombing confirmed the tightrope Gerry Adams had to walk in order to keep hardline republicans on board with his political project. He expressed regret for the bombing that killed nine people and one of the bombers, but did not condemn it. Gerry Adams then carried the coffin of the IRA man Thomas Begley, who died when the bomb exploded prematurely.

But the Hume-Adams talks were beginning to bear fruit. US President Bill Clinton withstood pressure from London to grant Gerry Adams a 48-hour visa for a peace conference in New York. The visit attracted worldwide attention and Adams used it as justification to press on with politics. The Hume-Adams process eventually delivered the 1994 IRA ceasefire that ultimately provided the relatively peaceful backdrop against which the Good Friday Agreement was brokered.

In 1998, 90% of the party backed its president in taking seats in the new Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont – a remarkable piece of political management given Sinn Féin’s “no return to Stormont” slogan in the 1997 general election campaign.

DUP Deal

Gerry Adams stayed out of the Stormont power-sharing executive, letting Martin McGuinness take a ministerial post. When the power-sharing deal collapsed in 2003, Gerry Adams became a key player in the government’s attempts to broker a new agreement between Sinn Féin and their one-time enemies, the Democratic Unionist Party. The negotiations foundered at the end of 2004, but in October 2006 both Mr Adams and DUP leader Mr Paisley indicated their support for the St Andrews Agreement, drawn up after intensive talks in Scotland.

The deal led to a once-unthinkable situation, a Stormont coalition led by the DUP and Sinn Féin. A key element of the deal was Sinn Féin support for the police, whom the IRA had once deemed “legitimate targets”.

Gerry Adams Enthusiastic User of Twitter

Recent years also saw different sides of Mr Adams, however. He fully embraced the potential of social media and is well known as an enthusiastic user of Twitter. He gained a reputation for quirky tweets, many focused on his teddy bear and rubber duck collection. This frankness has also led him into controversy, however, such as in 2016 when Mr Adams apologised for using the ‘N-word’ in a tweet comparing the plight of slaves in the United States to that of Irish nationalists.

In the meantime, Mr Adams and Sinn Féin were beginning to make plans for his transition from leadership – and these plans would begin to become public just when Northern Ireland’s political process once again hit the rocks. In January 2017, Martin McGuinness quit as Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister in protest at the handling of a botched energy scheme.

The move led to an ongoing political crisis that between Northern Ireland’s two largest parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin, that has yet to be resolved. Soon after his resignation, Mr McGuinness confirmed that he was in ill health and would not be standing for re-election.

Sinn Féin’s deputy leader added that he and Mr Adams had devised a plan for the handing over of Sinn Féin’s leadership. The first part of that plan became public later that month when Michelle O’Neill replaced Mr McGuinness as Sinn Féin’s leader in Northern Ireland.

Gerry Adams Books

Falls Memories: A Belfast Life

Sinn Fein president Adams’s memoir of growing up in the Falls Road region of Belfast, spiritual center of Northern Irish republicanism, is both a nostalgic recollection of the author’s early life and a fond history of the city’s Catholic working class. Adams asserts that “people in this part of the world have a benign and protective attitude towards militant republicanism,” and presents a detailed colloquial history of Falls Road that considers Northern Irish sectarianism within economic and class contexts. Although his subject matter and themes are steeped in the Republican vernacular, Adams writes in an informal, conversational style, largely free of overt political tones, and even manages to inject a wry sense of humor into the most touching of histories.

Relatively innocent episodes from Adams’s Belfast boyhood contrast with his growing awareness of religious factionalism, which, “like all sectarianism, had nothing to do with religion and was merely, as always, a profitable ruse.” Although Adams’s analysis of the cultural background of the Northern Ireland conflict is lucid, this memoir reveals little of Adams himself, and less of Adams the politician.

Using lyrics of children’s songs, details of esoteric street games, reminiscences of local characters and illustrations of landmarks from his youth, Adams instead sketches a deeply felt and gentle portrait of a people whose “courage, self-reliance, hospitality, generosity and good humour . . . is as strong now as it ever was,” despite a quarter-century of warfare.

Free Ireland: Towards a Lasting Peace

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams follows his recent controversial visit to the U.S. with a timely appraisal of the history, tenets and significance of contemporary Irish republicanism. Using a personal, unassuming style rather than heated political rhetoric, Adams presents a concise, lucid and partisan analysis of the development of Irish nationalism and republicanism and of the strategic and political responses of the British government.

Moving from a recollection of his personal development within the civil rights movement in 1960s Belfast to a broader account of Northern Ireland’s tragic political history, Adams reviews the origins and evolution of his own and Sinn Fein’s republicanism as a response to “an apartheid state in which a very substantial minority of the citizens were disenfranchised and denied social, economic, political and civil equality.”

Adams also provides an insightful discussion of political conditions in Britain and the Republic of Ireland, and he examines Sinn Fein’s role in the search for a peaceful settlement to a quarter century of discord. Originally published in Ireland in 1986 as The Politics of Irish Freedom, this take on Ireland’s tangled politics is updated to include Adams’s assessment of the current peace processes, his solutions for the resolution of the violence and, in a bid for U.S. support, a discussion of the “enormous symbolic and political importance” of his recent visit to this country.

A FARTHER SHORE: Ireland’s Long Road to Peace

Born in Belfast in 1948, Adams has spent his entire life in the nationalist movement and immediately states that he was never a member of the IRA; he similarly denies that Sinn Féin is “the political wing of the IRA.” Northern Ireland politics is always a complicated array of facts and contradictions, but Adams has done a workmanlike job of defining events and personalities.

He puts the 1988 Gibraltar assassinations of three IRA members squarely at the feet of Margaret Thatcher. And while he excoriates Thatcher and her ilk, he embraces Nelson Mandela (“the greatest political leader of our time”), Steve Bilko, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Rosa Parks and Ho Chi Minh as mentors and heroes. The Good Friday Agreement is at the book’s heart.

There are many heroes, including Nobel laureate John Hume, Irish Prime Ministers Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern, Tony Blair and, most prominently, Bill Clinton. Adams shows how he and his cohorts reached across the Atlantic for help and support. It was Clinton’s unilateral 1994 act granting Adams a visa to enter the U.S. that started the peace process rolling. Adams takes us step-by-step through the tense negotiations, which culminated in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Adams’s eighth book is suspenseful, biased, subversive, blunt and often funny. Edifying for both the neophyte and the veteran observer, it will open eyes as to how this master politician thinks and operates. Photos not seen by PW.

Before the Dawn: Autobiography of Gerry Adams

Adams was born in Belfast in 1948 into a devoutly Republican family. He fondly remembers growing up poor in a loving household that included nine brothers and sisters (three siblings died in infancy). He recalls being told the “”facts of life”” by his father: “”…keep [your] wee man clean and stay away from bad women.”” He also reminisces about how crucial the pawnshop was to the family’s survival and gives a hilarious rendition of his first Communion.

After completing secondary school during the mid-’60s, Adams worked in a pub and was politicized by the Catholic civil rights marches in Belfast. He blames much of the problems in the north on the former Six Counties Stormont government, which he says had “”a supremacist credo similar to South Africa’s apartheid system.”” He points out that “”pogroms”” and gerrymandering have had a devastating effect on the Catholic population of Northern Ireland. He discusses the beginning of the Stormont government policy of internment without trial in 1971 and his own imprisonment on three occasions for IRA activity. He has high praise for President Clinton’s pressure on the British government in the peace talks, while he blasts former Irish minister Conor Cruise O’Brien for his “”McCarthyite”” tactics.

Except for a mention in a brief epilogue, readers looking for revelations about the peace process in Northern Ireland will be disappointed, because the book ends after the IRA hunger strikes in 1981. It is arguably, however, a definitive history of the Irish struggles of the 1970s, from the nationalist point of view. Adams, a fine writer, presents a straightforward, unapologetic memoir.

Gerry Adams Family

Gerry Adams has been married to his wife Collette McArdle. They have a son, Gearóid Adams, a teacher well known for his involvement in Gaelic football. Gerry Adams Sibling: Liam Adams.

Gerry Adams Hobbies

Gerry Adams enjoys walking, dogs, and Gaelic games, as well as spending time with his grandchildren.

Gerry Adams Biography and Profile

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