Gerry Adams

1948- [Gerald Adams; sometime pseud. “Brownie”]; b. 6 Oct. in West Belfast; oldest of ten children and son of a builder’s labourer, both parents being involved in Republican movement; his mother [née Hannaway], claims ancestors engaged in Fenian Rising of 1867; his father was wounded in an attempted assassination in 1942, for which he served five years imprisonment, released the year prior to Gerald Adams’s birth; an uncle, Dominic Adams was a senior Republican; family moved to Ballymurphy housing estate; ed. St. Finian’s Primary Sch. (De la Salle Brothers) and Christian Brothers Grammar School; sat Eleven Plus, 1960 and passed it on second attempt, entering St. Mary’s Grammar Sch.; enjoyed summer visits to West Donegal Gaeltacht;
probably became involved in IRA prior to leaving school; commenced work at 17 as barman in Duke of York public house, continuing there until he was ‘relieved of his duties’ (14 Aug. 1969); joined Sinn Féin republican movement as ‘helper’, 1964; elected to Executive of NI Civil Rights Association, 1967; civil rights demonstrations outlawed, 1969; led towards Provisional IRA by Jimmy Steele and sided with Provos, 1969-70 - by his own account following riots caused by Ian Paisley’s insistence that the Tricolour be removed from the Divis St. Flats; reputed to have been Officer Commanding [OC] of Ballymurphy Prov. IRA, 1969, and later Adj-Gen. Belfast Brigade, 1971;
m. Collette McArdle, 1971; arrested without proof of IRA memberhip, July 1972, and interned in Long Kesh (aka The Maze); released to negotiate with William Whitelaw, UK Sec. of State, in London, 1972; writes articles in An Phoblacht from Long Kesh as “Brownie” (‘We fight for […] small farmers being pushed off the land by big ranchers’); Gearóid, a son, b. 1975, while his father was in prison; writes Bodenstown speech with Danny Morrison, for Jimmy Drumm, 1977; elected co-Vice President of Sinn Féin, 1977; President of Sinn Féin; commanding officer of IRA operations, replacing Martin McGuinness as chief of Army Council, 1979; ceased active service,1982;
wrote to Bobby Sands that Sinn Féin was ‘tactically, strategically, physically and morally opposed to a hunger strike’, 1980; MP for West Belfast, 1983-92, but did not take it up at Westminster; shot in neck by loyalist, 1984; lead Sinn Féin towards acceptance of legitimacy of Southern State in 1986 Ard Fheis, isolating Ruairi Ó Bradaigh, then 14 years in the presidency of the political branch of the Provisional movement; lost his seat to Dr Joe Hendron (SDLP), 1992; engaged in talks with John Hume, 1993; told rally in Belfast, ‘they [the IRA] haven’t gone away, you know’, Aug. 1995; won back his former parliamentary seat, May 1997; led Sinn Féin in Stormont talks on declaration of ceasefire, Jul 1997;
elected to N. Ireland Assembly, June 1998; contrib. to The Irish Times and other mainstream newspapers from Autumn 1998; called Francis Begley, Shankhill bomber who died among his nine victims, a ‘martyr for Ireland’, and helped carry his coffin; negotiated IRA cease-fire with John Hume, 1993-94; an autobiography, Our Day Will Come [i.e., tíochfaidh ár lá], was announced as pending in March 1996 but appeared in Sept. as Before the Dawn (1996), with an advance of £100,000; granted visa to enter America by presidential administration of Bill Clinton, 1994; attains notoreity during speech outside Belfast City Hall when he answers a heckler calling for return of the IRA with, ‘They haven't gone away, you know’; listed as ‘Member, Northern Ireland Assembly, 1981’, in Westminster members registry, 1997;
continues as President of Sinn Féin, though not himself holding an Assembly seat in the post-Belfast Agreement period; issued personal memoir of peace process as Hope and History (2003); faces embarrassment at exposure of Freddie Scappaticci as [prob.] British agent “Stakeknife”, 2003; denies allegations of leadership role in IRA advanced by Ed Moloney (Secret War), charging him with complicity in death of Jean McConville, Sept. 2002; later indicates that the IRA may have been involved and challenges Irish premier to have him arrested if he himself is believed to have had foreknowledge, Dec.-Jan. 2005; issued The New Ireland: A Vision for the Future (2005); St. Patrick’s Day invitation to White House withdrawn after murder of Robert McCartney by drunken IRA men in Belfast and made subject to vilification by McCartney sisters;
abstained from memorial services for Lord Gerry Fitt, reiterating party line on former SDLP founder; embarrassed by exposure of British agent Denis Donaldson, previously the ‘victim of securicrats’ in Stormontgate ‘spy-ring’ affair, Feb. 2006; attests to non-criminal status of Thomas “Slab” Murphy after raids on his border farm by Irish police and Criminal Assets agency, March 2006; re-elected to NI Assembly, March 2007; face-to-face meeting with Ian Paisley, resulting in agreement on power-sharing executive; admits strategy failure in relation to Sinn Féin voting collapse in Irish elections (ROI); issued An Irish Eye (2007); enlists IRA co-operation in recovery of the bodies of the “disappeared” of the Troubles such as Mrs McConville, buried in unknown graves;
revealed that his father has been sexually abusive in response to criminal charges laid against his brother Liam Adams of sexually abusing his own dg., Aine,. during 1977-83, Dec. 2009; represented as a key figure in IRA during the 170s by Brendan Hughes (former Belfast commandant) in a posthumous memoir pub. April 2010 ((Ed Moloney, Voices from the Grave); proposes talks with dissident republicans (‘Real IRA’), Aug. 2010; holds West Belfast with 71.5% of the vote, General Election 2010; his prior awareness of the Northern Bank robbery of 2004 revealed in Wikileaks, Dec. 2010; steps down from Stormont Assembly, Nov. 2010, and resigns Westminster seat, Jan. 2011, to contest a Dáil Eireann seat for Louth & East Meath in pending Irish general election;
Moloney’s Voices from the Grave (2010) contains the assertion by Brendan Hughes, a former commandant of the Belfast IRA, that Adams was at the centre of that organisation in the 1970s; Adams gives evidence at trial of his br. Liam Adams, April 2013; detained by PSNI in connection with investigation into death of Joan McConville in 1972 after Boston College is ordered to release of the Brendan Hughes tapes, April 30 2014; accused by Enda Kenny in Dail Question Time of covering up an IRA “kangaroo court”-style interview; with Maíria Cahill about her rape at 16 by an IRA member conducted in the presence of the assailant, 22 Oct. 2014 - and remarked elsewhere that the IRA had shot or expelled alleged sex-offenders, although ‘[m]any senior republicans, including me [GA], had major issues with the IRA acting as a policing agency’;
objects to media treatment of the Mairia Cahill case, targetting the Irish Independent in particular in remarks which occasion widespread objections to his virulently anti-press stance, construed by some as threatening to press freedom, Nov. 2014. FDA WJM

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Gerry Adams on charges of sheltering his IRA perpetrators of sexual abuse for political reasons.
“But these actions were of their time and reflected not only a community at war but also an attitude within Ireland which did not then understand or know as we now do, how deeply embedded abuse is in our society ... as society became better informed as to the issue and handling of abuse, republicans began to develop victim-centred approaches.”

(Gerry Adams Blog - quoted on Facebook by Cathryn Setz “seems fair to me” - 23.10.2014.)

See the Sinn Fein press conference with Gerry Adams following release from Antrim Barracks - 4 May 2014 in YouTube (online).

In the video, Mr Adams professes innocence of any alleged complicity in the abduction, killing or secret burial of Joan McConville and questions the value of a police interrogation based in ‘open sources’ including news cuttings and the Brendan Hughes tapes while suggesting that the timing of the interview to coincide with his Party’s candidacies in the European Union elections was other than accidental. He reaffirms his commitment to a non-violent, democratic Ireland in which it is possible to

‘build the peace not to let anyone put us off whether it’s on the dark side .. civic society .. our future .. the past is the past .. the future is about children ... rights to live in an Ireland in which it is possible to be comfortable .. equality and justice for everyone.’

He expresses personal sympathy for the McConville family and expresses the view that the IRA is ‘gone’ at the time of speaking, having been replaced by a democratic Republican Party (i.e., Sinn Féin). Some harsh remarks are reserved for those who believe that the IRA physical-force campaign is still alive or has any reason to be perpetuated.

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  • Falls Memories (Dingle: Brandon Press 1982), and Do. [nre edn.] (Dingle: Brandon 1994) 114pp.;
  • Cage Eleven (Dingle: Brandon Press 1990), 160pp.;
  • The Street and Other Stories (Dingle: Brandon Press 1992, 1994) 160pp. [stories].
  • The Politics of Irish Freedom (Dingle: Brandon 1986), 192pp.; reiss. with 2 added chaps. as Free Ireland: Towards a Lasting Peace (Dingle: Brandon 1995), 256pp.;
  • Signposts to Independence and Socialism (Dublin: Sinn Féin Publicity Dept. 1988), 31pp.;
  • Pathway to Peace (Cork: Mercier 1988) 92pp.;
  • Selected Writings (Dingle: Brandon Press 1994), 320pp.;
  • An Irish Voice: The Quest for Peace (Dingle: Mount Eagle 1997; Colorado: Roberts Rinehart 1997), 287pp.;
  • The New Ireland: A Vision for the Future (Dingle: Brandon Press 2005), 124pp.;
  • An Irish Eye (Dingle: Brandon Press 2007), 288pp.
  • Before the Dawn (Dingle: Brandon; London: Heinemann 1996), 346pp.+12pp. pls.; and Do., in US as Before the Dawn: An Autobiography ([NY:] Morrow 1996), 332pp.; Do. [rep. edn.] (Dingle: Brandon 2001);
  • An Irish Journal (Dingle: Brandon Press 2001), 288pp.;
  • Hope and History (Dingle: Brandon Press 2003), 416pp.
Miscellaneous (sel.)
  • [...]
  • Gerry Adams, ‘The Jean McConville killing: I’m completely innocent. But what were my accusers’ motives?’. in The Guardian (7 May 2014).

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  • Colm Kenna, Gerry Adams: A Biography (Cork: Mercier Press 1990), 175pp;
  • J. H. Whyte, Interpreting Northern Ireland (OUP 1991), pp.135-36 [see extract];
  • Thomas MacCarthy, ‘Gerry Adams and Political Fictions’, in Stet Magazine [Cork] (Dec. 1993), [q.p.];
  • John Devitt, ‘Stories of Belfast’, review of The Street, in Irish Literary Supplement, 13, 1 (Spring 1994), p.36 [see extract];
  • Hunter Davies, interview with Gerry Adams, in Independent UK (21 Feb. 1995), [see extract];
  • Kevin Toolis, Rebel Hearts: Journey with the IRA’s Soul (London: Picador 1995) [noticed in Times Literary Supplement, 5 April 1996, p.32);
  • David Sharrock, ‘The Troubles with Gerry’, Guardian Weekly (3 March 1996), p.23 [see extract];
  • Shirley Kelly, ‘The Making of a Republican: Interview with Adams’, Books Ireland (Sept. 1996), pp.213-15;
  • Mairtín Crawford, ‘Sinn Fein’s Reluctant Leader’, Fortnight (Oct. 1996), pp.30-31 [see extract];
  • Paul Bew, ‘Home Thoughts of a Republican,’ review of Before the Dawn, Times Literary Supplement (15 Nov. 1996), p.14 [see extract];
  • Thomas Flanagan, review of Before The Dawn, Washington Post, [Book World] (26 January 1997), [see extract];
  • Roy Foster, ‘Sinn Feign’, review of Before the Dawn, The New Republic [US] (4 Aug. 1997), pp.27-32;
  • David Sharrock & Mark Devenport, Man of War Man of Peace?: The Unauthorised Biography of Gerry Adams (London: Macmillan 1997), 488pp. [see extract].
  • Mary Kenny, ‘If anyone can, he can’, review of An Irish Voice (Mount Eagle 1997), Selected Writings [1994] (Dingle: Brandon Books 1997), and David Sharrock & Mark Devenport, Man of War Man of Peace?: The Unauthorised Biography of Gerry Adams, Times Literary Supplement (26 Dec. 1997), p.10;
  • Colin Graham, Deconstructing Ireland: Identity, Theory and Culture (Edinburgh UP 2001), pp.113-15 [see extract.]
  • Gerry Moriarty [Northern Editor], ‘IRA may need to disarm and disband - Adams’ (The Irish Times, Sat, 7 Aug. 2004) [see extract].
  • [...]
    Ed Moloney, Voices from the Grave: Two Men’s War in Ireland (London: Faber & Faber 2010), 521pp. [memoirs of Brendan Hughes d.2008, and David Ervine, d.2007].
  • Stephen Moss, ‘Gerry Adams: “I’m happy with who I am ... it’s very important to be a subversive”’ [interview], in The Guardian (24 Jan. 2011), G2, pp.7-9. in The Guardian (24 Jan. 2011), G2, pp.7-9 [see extract].
  • Gerry Adams: The Man We Love to Hate [Panorama Prog.] (London: BBC 1995) [video-cassette; see Peter Heathwood's List of Television Documentaries, 1981-2005 at Cain Project online.].

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J. H. Whyte
John Devitt
Hunter Davies
David Sharrock
Mairtín Crawford
Paul Bew
Thomas Flanagan
David Sharrock
Ed Maloney
Joseph O’Neill
Fintan O’Toole
Hillary Clinton
Stephen Moss

J. H. Whyte, Interpreting Northern Ireland (OUP 1991), pp.135-36: ‘Gerry Adams, The Politics of Irish Freedom (1987) and A Pathway to Peace (1988) are condemned as superficial in regard to the historical and sociological facts. Adams maintains a traditional nationalist view of Ulster Protestant identity, and blames all on the British presence. He treats the Protestants as an Irish minority, whereas they see themselves as a British people.’ Further, ‘he attributes [the 19th c. growth of Unionism] to landlord manipulation, the machinations of the Presbyterian divine Henry Cooke, and the manoeuvres of British Conservatives … [overlooking] real differences in religious values, national identity, and economic interest.’ Further, Whyte notes the value of autobiographical passages in Adams, but adds, he does not face the objections which anyone who does not already hold that doctrine [republicanism] might raise against it.

John Devitt, ‘Stories of Belfast’, Irish Literary Supplement (Spring 1994),[q.p.]: notices The Street (1992), includes “Phases”; “Does He Take Sugar”; “Exiles”, dealing with family difficulties and tensions; also “Just a Game”, politically resonant study of juvenile hurling team from Ballymurphy; “The Mountains of Mourne”; remarks that the writing is occasionally marred by pseudo-poetic prose and wishful thinking.

Hunter Davies, interview with Gerry Adams, Independent, UK (21 Feb. 1995), [q.p.]: refers to IRA long-standing desire for peace ‘but not a bogus peace, like the so-called Peace Movements’; actively sued for peace from 1985; admits to claiming for social security benefits; his son Gearóid (b.1975); grew beard in 1971; has agreed with Brandon to do a personal book; royalties on five books so far all to charity; ceased as barman at Duke of York’s on 15 Aug. 1969, and no salary since; ‘I am doomed, as long as I am spared, to be a political animal.’

David Sharrock, ‘The Troubles with Gerry’, Guardian Weekly (3 March 1996), p.23: Sharrock records that Adams himself said he married Collette in 1971 when they both considered themselves ‘at war’; that his first sexual fumblings were with Protestant girls on the nearby estate; and that he narrowly escaped arrest when the bus on which he was riding in disguise (the beard) was searched by paras in 1971; he has also given an account of himself in which he was politicised when the RUC raided a Sinn Féin office for an illegal tricolour at the instigation of Ian Paisley; but notes that he is the son of a man wounded in an earlier IRA campaign; an off-the-cuff remark to American journalists is cited: ‘What if a section of the IRA told me to f*** off?’

Mairtín Crawford, ‘Sinn Fein’s Reluctant Leader’, [interview-article with Gerry Adams], Fortnight (Oct. 1996), pp.30-31, quotes: ‘I consider myself to be a writer but I am more of a political activist who writes than a writer who is involved in political activity.’ Further: ‘I was moving into national leadership and before that I had the luxury of dealing with local issues. The Bodenstown speech [1977] acknowledged that there were wider issues to be addressed’; ‘I have to stress that it has been my view for a long time that what we need is a political solution to a political problems. All the effects of the conflict - death, imprisonments, discrimination are symptoms of conflict.’ [On Bobby Sands:] ‘My main fear at that time was that the British were not going to move and that Bobby was going to die and that Bobby knew this also. He regarded the five demands almost as an opt-out clause, a safety-valve for the British to bring the thing to a dignified end. What happened was that the British elevated the thing to a battle between the prisoners and the British government. None of us could have foreseen that nine of Bobby’s comrades were going to die and of course that people were going to die on the streets.’ ‘I don’t think it [the Hunger Strike deaths] has had any lasting damaging effect. If anything it has had an inspiring and uplifting effect on many people.’ ‘What we need now is to have the two governments to play their parts. We need a proper peace process with inclusive negotiations and I would like to think sooner rather than later …’.

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Paul Bew, review of Before the Dawn, “Home Thoughts of a Republican”, in Times Literary Supplement (15 Nov. 1996), p.14: Bew notes the author’s lineage in Republican politics; quotes Adams interview in Andersontown News, 1986: ‘[the armed struggle] is a necessary form of resistance … armed struggle only becomes unnecessary when the British presence has been removed … if any time Sinn Fein decide to disown the armed struggle they won’t have me as a member’; further quotes Martin McGuinness’s declaration at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in the same year that ‘our position … will never change. The war against British rule must continue until freedom is achieved.’; regards Adams’s account of the Irish peace process as highly suspect and ‘easily refuted by his reference to his own words’; shows that Adams was aware of the decommissioning proviso in an Irish News interview of 9 Jan. 1996, contradicting his later assertion that this was new; notes that he was clearly impressed by the Framework Document, but that the current version portrays ‘perfidious Albion’ as recklessly spurning the olive branch for reasons not clear; concludes that the real story concerns the take-over of IRA by new elements in late 1995 who had decided that he had deceived himself about the benefits of peace and would nevertheless serve as a figure-head in dealing with bien-pensant international opinion.

Thomas Flanagan review of Before The Dawn, in Washington Post [Book World section] (26 Jan. 1997), [q.p.]: ‘Deeply loyal to traditional republicanism, which for them was history itself, they were also, in their way, children of the ‘60s and knew the words not only to “Bold Robert Emmet” but also to the civil rights songs of the United States and South Africa’.

Further [Thomas Flanagan]:
‘His efforts to supply a personal history of the republican movement without being clear about what he, personally, was doing has carried him into techniques which bear a striking although inadvertent resemblance to those of postmodernist literature.’ Flanagan here quotes Maureen Orth, in a recent Vanity Fair article, describes her efforts to learn whether he is, or was, a member of the IRA: “Thus begins a Kabuki scenario that every chronicler of Adams is forced to participate in, knowing that the truth is somewhere within the fan that conceals him.”
‘At times in the autobiography, he emerges from workaday obscurity into a position of clear but unspecified authority, only to sink back once more into shadow, rather like Woody Allen’s Zelig. In one extraordinary instance, he is released from Long Kesh so that he can be flown, with high-ranking members of the IRA, to a London meeting with British officials, although later “I was disconcerted when my name appeared in the newspapers because I was doing nothing, as I saw it, to deserve this attention.”’
‘We cannot even know whether, behind the fan, he is smiling at our frustrated curiosity’, and continues: ‘It is far more striking that two entire population groups are given in this book only a flickering, Zelig-like existence. You would never guess from Before the Dawn that the majority of the people in Northern Ireland are Protestants and are deeply attached to their sense of a British identity. Here they make shadowy, unreadable appearances as drinkers in a pub where Adams worked or as sashed and bowler-hatted marchers in Orange processions or as loyalist paramilitaries. They are present as cartoons - a sketch of King Billy on a gable-end, the venomous ranting of an Ian Paisley, the voice of a policeman dehumanised by a bull-horn. This is in part a consequence of the conditions of apartheid in which the two populations have lived. But it is also a willed ignorance, a refusal to enter into the imaginative life of a different community.’

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David Sharrock & Mark Devenport, Man of War, Man of Peace?: The Unauthorised Biography of Gerry Adams (Macmillan 1997): includes the remark, ‘Judging Gerry Adams is not an easy task of both his lack of candour about his part and the uncertainty about what the future may hold for him.’ (Quoted in Mary Kenny’s review of Man of War, Man of Peace?, Times Literary Supplement, 26 Dec. 1997, p10.)

Colin Graham, Deconstructing Ireland: Identity, Theory and Culture (Edinburgh UP 2001) - comments on short-story “The Rebel”: ‘“The Rebel”, despite its attempt to include and in places elevate the subalternity of women, still pulls gender under the umbrella' of nation - it is the politics of nationa struggle which are most savagely foced into revision in this story (the target for Margaret's rebellion, her dormant-old-style-rebel husband, has in this sense already been “softened” by the radicalism in which her politicisation becomes enveloped). [...] For all its encompassing of a recognition that Irish republicanism should attend to gender as an issue both within Ireland and within itss own ideology, and for all that “The Rebel” allows the subaltern position of women to be stated within a “natinoal” discourse, the story continues to hierarchise “subaltern” groups, restating a narrative in which nation precedes gender - it this it unwittingly reverts to the Gramscian model which acknowledges that subalternity is a series of political struggles in which the desired end in each case is to replace the dominant rather than retain a continuity of subservion.’ (p.143.)

Ed Moloney, A Secret History of the IRA (London: Allen Lane 2002): ‘It is the central thesis of this book - and its principal revelation - that it was that organisation’s dominating figure Gerry Adams, who launched, shaped, nurtured, and eventually guided the peace process to a successful conclusion.’ Further: ‘Thirty years after they exploded, the Troubles have ended. The republicans have accepted a political process whose foundation stone is the principle of consent, an acknowledgement that unionists cannot be forced into a united Ireland against there wishes.’ (Quoted in Lucille Redmond, review of same; in Books Ireland, Summer 2003, p.165.) Moloney treats the betrayal of the Eksund arms shipment by a senior member as the turning-point in the chistory of the IRA.

See also Colm Tóibín’s account of Maloney’s book: ‘a masterful and definitive version of the struggle within the IRA over the last 30 years [which] makes the figure of Gerry Adams more intriguing, not sinister and admirable [… &c.’ (The Irish Times, ‘Books of the Year’, 30 Nov. 2002.)

Also a review by Charles Townsend, remarking that ‘the biggest of his [Moloney’s] revelations is that the shipment was betrayed by an informer at the very top of the IRA - an explosive charge indeed’ (Times Literary Supplement, 27 Dec. 2002).

Note: Moloney’s Voices from the Grave (2010) incls. the assertion by Brendan Hughes, former commandant of the Belfast IRA, that Adams was at the centre of that organisation in the 1970s. (See review by Dominic Sandbrook, in The Telegraph, 17 April 2010; online - accessed 26-01-2011.)

Joseph O’Neill, review of A Farther Shore, in NY Times (14 Dec. 2003) ‘[…] His two most irritating traits are both in evidence in A Farther Shore. First, there’s his politician’s way with technically truthful falsehoods, as in: “I am not a violent person. I have often been accused, particularly by my opponents, of being in, or having been in, the IRA. It is a charge I have always rejected.” Second, there is his lopsided plaintiveness, which is obviously for the benefit of his political base but exasperating nevertheless. In this book, as ever, victims of IRA violence are never described in human terms, whereas victims of British or Protestant violence are accorded respectful detail; and, as ever, the IRA’s extrajudicial killings (often of civilians) are treated as incidents of a just war, whereas British extrajudicial killings of IRA volunteers excite moral and constitutional outrage (as they should; only not in Gerry Adams). Adams himself makes no bones about his partiality: “It is not my business to offer an objective account of events or to see through someone else’s eyes…. My intention is to tell my story. My truth. My reality.” / But if you tune out the rhetoric and hypocrisy, you are left with a fascinating picture of how Irish republicanism gradually moved, as Adams puts it, “from a culture of resistance to a culture of change.” […] What’s striking, in Adams’s description of the years of violence, setbacks, false dawns and minuscule advances that constituted the peace process, is how he and [John] Hume persevered.’ He concludes: ‘The Irish experience confirms, as if anybody seriously doubted it, that to settle a violent political conflict you need talks that maximize, not minimize, the involvement of those perpetrating the violence. […]’, before making final comparison with Palestine/Israel.

Fintan O’Toole (on whether or not Adams was a member of the IRA]: ‘The evidence of [Adams’s] having been a senior IRA member is so overwhelming that it is impossible to find anyone who actually believes his denials. As early as July 1972, when Adams was just 23, the British government arranged talks with the IRA leadership in London. One of the IRA’s conditions for agreeing to take part was that Adams be released from custody to join its negotiating team. / In January 1973, the US embassy in Dublin reported to Washington that the IRA was led by “Troika”, namely Dáithí O’Connell, Joe Cahill and Gerry Adams, “who is still an active Belfast military commander”. / In 2002, Dolours Price, who was convicted of involvement in the planting of four IRA car-bombs in London in March 1973, described Adams as “my commanding officer” at the time. / In the mid-1970s, Adams, then a prisoner in Long Kesh, wrote for An Phoblacht under the pseudonym “Brownie”. In a column in May 1976, he made his only public admission of IRA membership. “Rightly or wrongly, I am an IRA Volunteer and, rightly or wrongly, I take a course of action as a means to bringing about a situation in which I believe the people of my country will prosper,” Adams wrote. “The course I take involves the use of physical force.” [….; Adams] has been accused by a highly respected journalist, Ed Moloney, in his book A Secret History of the IRA, of having established and controlled the cell within the IRA that kidnapped, tortured and “disappeared” Jean McConville and others.’ O’Toole then calls for ‘a proper Truth and Reconciliation Commission’. (Bran, ‘Fintan O’Toole Almost Gets It: The Irish Media and the IRA’, in Blog Irish (3 March 2004) [link].

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Living History (NY: Simon & Schuster 2003), notes that Adams was granted a visa in 1994, and remarks: ‘There was no doubt that Adams had been somehow involved in AIRA activities [321] in the past and the US State Department agreed with the British government’s arguments against granting the visa. But the Irish government had decided that dealing with Adams and Sinn Fein made sense. They argued that Bill [Clinton] could play a role in creating an environment conducive to peace negotiations. / In the early 1990s Ireihad had been referred to by economists as the “Celtic Tiger” because of explosive growth and a new prosperity that was actually bringing Irish immigrants [sic] back home’ [323]. See also her record of a ‘stopover at Shannon’: ‘one of Bill and Chelsea’s favourite books was Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilisation. Chelsea asked if she could go out into the field and touch Irish soil. I watched as she picked up some sod [sic] and put it in a bottle to take home.’ [321]

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Gerry Moriarty, ‘IRA may need to disarm and disband - Adams’, in The Irish Times ([Sat.] 7 Aug. 2004): ‘Mr Gerry Adams has reiterated his argument that the IRA may need to end activity and disarm so that unionists will no longer have an excuse not to share power with Sinn Féin. / The Sinn Féin president yesterday stood by and re-emphasised the remarks he made on Thursday evening that republicans may be required effectively to stand down and decommission so that unionists can no longer justify not fully working the political institutions. / Irish and British government sources have reacted cautiously to the remarks but welcomed the fact that Mr Adams has now generated early impetus for the intensive political negotiations aimed at restoring devolution that begin in September. / Unionist politicians expressed some cynicism about his comments and said what was required was the IRA matching Mr Adams’s words with deeds.’ See full-text version in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

Stephen Moss, ‘Gerry Adams: “I’m happy with who I am ... it’s very important to be a subversive”’ [interview], in The Guardian (24 Jan. 2011), G2, pp.7-9: ‘[...] The problem interviewers of Adams have is deciding whether he is dangerous IRA godfather or doting Catholic grandfather. He has always denied being a member of the IRA, but few have believed him. [...] “That’s a matter for them,” he says. “I’m not complaining. I just accept it as par for the course. A lot of people will write about you without ever having spoken one word to you. You will make what you want of this interview, and that is your right, but there are people who will write absolute nonsense.” Why did Hughes make the allegations? “Brendan Hughes was a friend of mine. He would not have passed me in that road. He would have run up and thrown his arms around me and been glad to see me. But Brendan had his issues and his difficulties. He was opposed to the peace process. He was politically hostile to what we were trying to do. Brendan said what Brendan said, and Brendan’s dead, so let it go.” / Adams [...] admits he gave the organisation his full backing. “I have never distanced myself from the IRA. At the height of the war, I would have argued in defence of the right of people to use armed struggle. I would have been very critical of the IRA at times and of particular IRA actions. [...] There has to be acceptance that mistakes were made and some things were handled badly. Other things were handled very well. You just have to try to move forward. It may be a fixation by some elements about whether I was or wasn’t in the IRA, but the IRA have left the stage. That’s history. I have a record, and I stand by my record.” See full-text version in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

A letter to the Guardian, 20 Nov. 2010.

Sir: Owing to his political allegiances, it would be impossible for Gerry Adams to resign from his Westminster seat (Report, 15 November). An old rule stipulates that an MP cannot resign his/her seat, so a member who wishes to “resign” actually gets appointed to a crown office. As a member of the Commons cannot hold a crown office they are deemed to have vacated their seat. But would Adams be a servant of the crown?

  —Seamus Kearney
   Lismire, Co Cork,

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Joint Statement with John Hume (Irish News, 16 April 1993, [q.p.]): ‘As leaders of our respective parties we have told each other that we see the task of reaching agreement on a peaceful and democratic accord for all on this island as our primary challenge. We both recognise that such a new agreement is only achievable and viable if it can earn and enjoy the allegiance of the different traditions on this island, by accommodating diversity and providing for national reconciliation.’ The secret document forwarded to the Irish Govt. and the British Govt. included the points that 1) the Irish people as a whole have a right to national self-determination; 2) unionist consent required for any solution; 3) call on two govts. to become ‘persuaders’ for a united Ireland. (Cited in Steve Bruce, On the Edge of the Union, 1994, ftn. 8, pp.164-65, with comment, ‘how Hume and Adams could believe that a process which amounted to the British forcing the Unionists to join a united Ireland could bring “peace within a week” is something of a mystery.’)

For & Against: ‘We stand opposed to all forms and manifestations of imperialism and capitalism. We stand for an Ireland free, united socialist and gaelic [.]. Our movement needs constructive and thoughtful self-criticism. We also require links with those oppressed by economic and social pressures. Today’s circumstances and our objectives dictate the need for building an agitational struggle in the twenty-six counties, an economic resistance movement, linking up Republicans with other sections of the working class. It needs to be done now because to date our most glaring weakness lies in our failure to develop revolutionary politics and to build an alternative to so-called constitutional politics.’ (Bodenstown Speech, 1977; cited in Roy Foster, ‘Sinn Feign’, review of Before the Dawn, in The New Republic [US], 4 Aug. 1997, pp.27-32; p.30.)

Armed struggle: ’There are those who tell us that the British Government will not be moved by armed struggle. As has been said before, the history of Ireland and of British colonial involvement throughout the world tell us that they will not be moved by anything else.’ (London Times, 12 Nov. 1987, [q.p.])

Good O-men : ‘Orangemen would be decent too if only the ruling classes did not separate them from their Catholic fellow-workers’ (Falls Memories, Brandon 1994, q.p.)

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Lacrymose: ‘When with the advantage of distance the history is written of Ireland in the years in which I have lived, I know that an Everest amongst the mountains of traumatic events which the Irish people have experienced will be the republication hunger strikes of 1980-81 […] The death on hunger strike of Bobby Sands had a greater international impact than any other even in Ireland in my lifetime, although for me at the time it was something which had much more to do with my feelings about comrades and friends […] I cannot yet think with any intensity of the death of Bobby Sands and the circumstance of his passing without crying.’ (Before the Dawn; cited in Shirley Kelly, ‘The Making of a Republican: Interview with Adams,’ Books Ireland, Sept. 1996, pp.213-15.)

Ballymurphy housing estate, Belfast]: ‘[B]adly built, badly planned, and badly lacking in facilities, but it nevertheless possessed a wonderful sense of openness, there on the slopes of the mountain’. (Before the Dawn, [q.p].)

Dead Brit: ‘He breathed in as the officer reached the lamppost, and he held his breath as his finger tightened on the trigger. First pressure. He let his breath out almost in a sigh and whispered “second pressure.” The heavy flat thud of the rifle exploded his words, sending the black-and-white cat scampering from the garden and the starlings from the dustbin.’ (in Before the Dawn; cited in Fintan O’Toole, ‘The End of the Troubles?’, review article in NY Review of Books, 19 Feb. 1998, [q.p.].)

Anniversary: ‘This is the day that James Connolly was executed in this city eighty-two years ago. It is a good day for us to recommit ourselves to our republican ideals and the struggles which lie ahead of us. In one of my first presidential addresses I quoted from Connolly’s Sinn Fein and Socialism. He wrote: “Sinn Féin. That is a good name for the new Irish movement of which we hear so much nowadays. Sinn Féin, or in English, ‘Ourselves’”.’ (’Address to the Reconvened Ard Fheis’, Sunday, 10 May 1998; cited in Peter Kuch, ‘Writing the 1916 Easter Rising’, in Transactions of the Princess Grace Irish Library Conference, 1998, [q.p.])

Hope and History (2003): ‘It is not my business to offer an objective account of events or to see through someone else’s eyes. Nor is it my responsibility to document these events. My intention is to tell my story. My truth. My reality.’

Further: ‘She was rushed to the City Hospital. Our family gathered at her bedside, including our brother Sean who was released from prison, handcuffed to a prison officer. If I had gone, it, it might have posed a danger to those who were staying. My ma would have understood. But I am sorry I didn’t get to tell Annie Adams just how much I loved her.’

‘While there is an inherent jingoism within elements of British public opinion, and while people in Britain are generally ignorant of what its governments have done in Ireland, I retain a confidence in the ability of the British people to do the right thing by Ireland, and Britain also, if there is an open and informed debate about the issues involved.’ (Quoted in Clodagh Corcoran [reviewing] in Books Ireland, Nov. 2003, p.276.)

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Disband the IRA?: “I personally feel that while there are justifiable fears within unionism about the IRA and while people have concerns about the IRA, I think political unionism uses the IRA and the issue of IRA arms as an excuse. I think that republicans need to be prepared to remove that as an excuse. / But we who are in leadership will only be empowered to do so if there is a context in which we can make progress. I don’t see the IRA doing that of its own volition. I see the IRA only doing that as part of an ongoing process of sustainable change.” (Comments on BBC Radio Ulster, Thurs. 5 Aug.; quoted in Gerry Moriarty, ‘IRA may need to disarm and disband - Adams’, The Irish Times, Sat., 7 Aug. 2004; see full text, infra.)

Michael Collins: ‘I think we’re talking now about Collins with the hindsight of seventy years. I don’t really, and this isn’t through any false sense of modesty, see myself as a historical figure of that stature neither do I see the situation now in terms of Sinn Féin of that time and dealing with the British and Sinn Féin now which is a party which has to deal with all the other parties and with two governments. Having said that - and I would never personalize, I know that people, you know, blame de Valera or blame Collins, I try to stay away from that. I certainly don’t think that I would have signed that type of treaty but who’s to know?’ (Adams, speaking on The South Bank Show, LWT, 27 Oct. 1996; reprod. in DVD version of Michael Collins; see Heathcliffian website [link].)


The Jean McConville killing: I’m completely innocent. But what were my accusers' motives?’, in The Guardian (7 May 2014).

Adams’ statement: My recent detention and interrogation was a serious attempt to bring charges against me. It was conducted by the retrospective major investigation team (Remit) of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which is based at Carrickfergus, County Antrim. [...] I was told that the interrogations were an evidence-gathering process, and that the police would be making the case that I was a member of the IRA; that I had a senior IRA managerial role in Belfast at the time of Jean McConville’s abduction; and that I was therefore bound to know about her killing. I challenged my interrogators to produce the new evidential material. They said that this would happen at a later interview but they wanted to take me through my childhood, family history and so on. Over the following four days it became clear that the objective of the interviews was to get to the point where they could charge me with IRA membership and thereby link me to the McConville case. The membership charge was clearly their principal goal. The interrogators made no secret of this. At one point the male detective described their plan as “a stage-managed approach”. It later transpired that it was a phased strategy, with nine different phases. [...]
 The allegation of conspiracy in the killing of Mrs McConville is based almost exclusively on hearsay from unnamed alleged Boston College interviewees but mainly from the late Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes. Other alleged interviewees were identified only by a letter of the alphabet, e.g., interviewee R or Y. It has been claimed by prosecutors in court that one of these is Ivor Bell, although the interrogators told me he has denied the allegations.
 I rejected all allegations made about me in the Boston tapes, which have now been totally discredited. Historians from the college have made it clear that this “never was a Boston College History Department project”. A spokesman for the college has confirmed that it would be prepared to hand back interviews to those involved.
 I am innocent of any involvement in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs McConville, or of IRA membership. I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, but I am not uncritical of IRA actions and particularly the terrible injustice inflicted on Mrs McConville and her family. I very much regret what happened to them and their mother and understand the antipathy they feel towards republicans.
 This case raises in a stark way the need for the legacy issues of the past to be addressed in a victim-centred way. Sinn Féin is committed to dealing with the past, including the issue of victims and their families. We have put forward our own proposals for an independent international truth recovery process, which both governments have rejected. We have also signed up for the compromise proposals presented by US envoys Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan. The two unionist parties and the British government have not.

[Available at The Guardian (7 May 2014) - online; see full-text version as attached. ]

How republicans dealt with allegations of child abuse’, Leargas [blog] (19 October 2014): ‘The recent allegations made by Maíria Cahill are of serious concern to myself and Sinn Féin. While I refute completely Maíria’s allegations against myself and Sinn Féin it does raise the significant issue of how allegations of abuse had been handled in the past by republicans. / Abuse respects no political boundaries. It affects all classes, creeds and social groups. Women and children in the main suffers as a result. It is now accepted that one in four citizens have experienced abuse. / Our society has been extremely bad, until relatively recently, in facing up to this matter and developing the necessary responses and supports. This has been the case in both states but in the North these failures were further exacerbated by conflict. [...]’; (Available at Leargas Blogspot - online; accessed 23.10.2014; see full-text version, - as attached.)

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COPAC lists Falls memories (1985); The politics of Irish freedom (1986); A Pathway to Peace (1988); Cage Eleven (1990); Selected Writings (1994, 1997); Free Ireland: towards a lasting peace (1995); Before the dawn: An Autobiography (1996, 1997); An Irish journal (2001); An Irish Voice: The Quest for Peace (1997); Signposts to Independence and Socialism (1988); The Street and Other Stories (1992, 1993); An tSráid agus Scéalta Eile (1997). Also, Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis ’85: presidential address by Gerry Adams MP to the 81st Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, Mansion House, Dublin, Sunday 3rd November 1985 (1985); The Politics of Revolution: The Main Speeches and Debates from the 1986 Sinn Fein Ard-Fheis including the presidential address of Gerry Adams (1986); Presidential address by Gerry Adams to the 82nd Annual Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis (1987); 89th Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (1989).

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Members rise: Adams’s membership of the IRA is asserted in Kevin Toolis, Rebel Hearts: Journey with the IRA’s Soul (London: Picador 1995); noticed in Times Literary Supplement, 5 April 1996, p.32.

Holy terror! Adams’s voice was dubbed for BBC by Alan McKee, under provision of the Anti-Terrorist Act, up to 16 Sept. 1994.

[See variant account: ‘Gerry Adams, whose voice-overs Belfast-born Rea did during the Sinn Fein broadcasting ban in the late 1980s, has been sucked into the row by DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson. ... Although he provided Mr Adams’ voice after the broadcasting ban was introduced in 1988, he said he wasn’t “hired”, but he did it after journalist Mary Holland asked him to, telling him she detected a “relaxing of positions” from Sinn Fein and that “the people have to hear what they're saying”’.- see Belfast Telegraph - online; 06.08.2017.]

Legal suit: Oliver MacDonogh, Brandon Press publisher of sundry works by Adams, took and lost a legal suit against RTÉ for refusing to carry advertisements for Falls Memories under ‘Section 31’; appearing for the plaintiff, Declan Kiberd; for the defence, Conor Cruise O’Brien. [See ‘Kerry’s Cosmopolitan Publisher’, Oliver MacDonagh and Brandon, no by-line.]

Hope and history”, the title-phrase of Adam’s 2003 autobiography, is taken from Seamus Heaney’s play The Cure of Troy and has variously been used by the President Clinton in addresses on the Belfast Agreement and by the International Ireland Funds.

Dogs in the street: Gerry Adam’s dog Shane was captured by the British and used as a ‘war dog’, and cried when he witnessed his former master being manhandled in Long Kesh. A Ballymurphy mongrel called Bo described in his memoirs joined in the rioting against British soldiers, died when he picked up a nail-bomb, and was exhumed for forensic tests. (See Joe Carroll, ‘Letter from America’, in The Irish Times, [Sat.] 18 April 2008, p.12, reporting on the ACIS conference at Fort Lauderdale and here quoting from a paper by Stacia Benyl of Missouri Western State College.

De brother (1): Liam Adams, brother of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, was remanded on bail in the Republic of Ireland in April 2010 while his lawyers prepared a defence against extradition to Northern Ireland where he is facing 18 charges charges of sexual abuse including rape, indecent assault, and gross indecency between March 1977 and March 1983 against his daughter Aine Tyrell, who waived her right to anonymity in December 2009 when the charges were brought. Liam Adams was represented by Caroline Cummins at the Dublin hearing and Michael Peart was on the bench. (See report by Henry McDonald in The Guardian, 21 April 2010.)

De brother (2): Gerry Adams has denied that he only went to police nine years after allegations of child abuse emerged against his younger brother to save his political career, as he gave evidence in court on Monday. The trial of Liam Adams heard that the Sinn Féin president did not tell police until 2009 that his brother had allegedly confessed to the abuse as they walked together in Dundalk in 2000. Gerry Adams was giving evidence against his brother in a Belfast court, where the latter faces 10 counts of alleged sex abuse against his daughter Aine, including rape. But the former West Belfast MP denied that he told Liam Adams he would "hit him with a hammer" if the allegations made by Aine Adams were true. Aine Adams has waived her right to anonymity. (See report by Henry McDonald in The Guardian, 22 April 2013.)

Da Medja: At and Sinn Fein funding event in New York, Gerry Adams berated the Irish press, and particularly the Independent News and Media group, for their coverage of the Máiria Cahill case in which he himself was said to have shown scant care for the victims of IRA sexism and machismo. His remarks adverted to Collin’s intervention in the Independent offices when they reported on [Bloody Sunday] under the legend, ‘Murder, Most Foul’. Collins’s men dismantled the press while holding the editor at gunpoint. (See further under Michael Collins > Notes - infra.)