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Gerry Adams

Adams, Gerry (Gerard Adams), 1948–, Northern Irish political leader. Born into an Irish nationalist family, Adams became politically active during the Catholic civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s, joining Sinn Féin and most probably (despite Adams's denials) the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He spent most of years between 1972 and 1983 interned as a suspected IRA member; at the same time he became vice president (1979–83) and president (1983–) of Sinn Féin and was regarded as increasingly influential in the IRA. In 1984 he survived an assassination attempt by Protestant extremists.

In the late 1980s, Adams was prominent among those Irish republicans who begin to abandon violence in favor of political power, a process that resulted in 1994–6 to an 18-month IRA cease-fire. In 1998 Adams and Sinn Féin participated in peace negotiations that subsequently brought about (albeit with difficulty) the reestablishment of Northern Irish home rule and the disarming of the IRA. The peace process also transformed the once-outlawed Sinn Féin into the largest Northern Irish Catholic political party and a participant in Northern Ireland's government. Adams was elected to the Northern Irish assembly (1998–2010) and to the British parliament (1983–92, 1997–2011), but he refused to pledge allegiance to the British monarch and take his seat in the latter body. In 2011 he was elected to the Irish Republic's parliament. He is also a prolific writer on Irish politics and history.

See his memoirs (1982, 2001, 2003); biography by C. Keena (1990).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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