| Gerry Adams |
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Former IRA leader who is also president of the Sinn Féin
Gerry Adams is an Irish republican politician who is the president of the Sinn Féin political party and a Teachta Dála (TD) in the Irish Parliament for Louth since the 2011 Irish General Election.
Following the UK/2017 General Election, when Theresa May's government lost its overall majority and has to rely on the support of ten MPs of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), there were calls – including a petition by Oliver Tickell, editor of The Ecologist magazine – for Gerry Adams to allow his seven elected Sinn Féin MPs to take up their seats in the UK Parliament and play an active part in the political process.
In the past three decades, Sinn Féin became the third-largest party in the Republic of Ireland, the second-largest political party in Northern Ireland and the largest Irish nationalist party in that region.
In 1984, Gerry Adams was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt by several gunmen from the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). From the late 1980s onwards, Adams was an important figure in the Northern Ireland peace process, initially following contact by the then-Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader John Hume and then subsequently with the Irish and British governments.In 2005, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) stated that its armed campaign was over and that it was exclusively committed to democratic politics.
From 1983 to 1992 and from 1997 to 2011, Gerry Adams was an abstentionist Member of Parliament (MP) of the UK Parliament for the Belfast West constituency and has been the president of Sinn Féin since 1983. Under Adams' leadership, Sinn Féin changed its traditional policy of abstentionism towards the Oireachtas, the parliament of the Republic of Ireland, in 1986 and later took seats in the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly. Flanked by his three fellow Sinn Fein MPs, Gerry Adams said taking up seats in the Dail was a very different proposition from doing so the Commons:
- "No Sinn Fein member would take the loyalty oath to the Queen, needed to take up a seat in Parliament, but that was a mere side issue to the key question of sovereignty. There are lots of things which there can be no certainty of and there are some things of which we can be certain. There will never, ever be Sinn Fein MPs sitting in the British Houses of Parliament. The transfer of power by London and Dublin to the Assembly in the north ... is all proof of where we see the political centre of gravity on the island of Ireland and that is in the island of Ireland."
- "Sinn Fein, take up your seats in the UK Parliament!"
- "Sinn Fein MPs enter House of Commons"