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Gerry Adams is a controversial political leader and author who is president of the party Sinn Féin, having historically called for Irish unification.
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Gerry Adams was born on October 6, 1948, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He took part in the Catholic civil rights protests of his home region before being imprisoned as a suspected IRA leader. After his release, he turned to political methods of calling for Irish unification and independence as the head of Sinn Féin, with the Belfast Agreement eventually signed in 1998. Adams is also a noted author.
"My mother was never overly robust, yet in her struggle to rear us and care for us she was the pillar of the family, and she plotted escape from our miserable slum room into a real house."
"My father did his best as a building laborer to provide for his young family, but these were difficult times, and although he was a hard worker, work itself was hard to come by, especially as a former political prisoner."
"All citizens need to be educated and children need to be listened to, empowered and protected. Many people in other families have suffered from abuse. Our family knows how deeply hurtful and traumatic that can be. No-one should have to deal with abuse or its consequences in isolation."
"Sinn Féin is not naive. Our strategy is determined by objective realities. It is guided among other things by the fact that the democratic rights and entitlements of nationalists and republicans cannot be conditional. These rights are universal rights. They effect all citizens."
"It would be easier for all of us to dwell on the past but it is also futile. It is harder and more difficult to build a new future. But that is what we are collectively mandated to do."
Gerard "Gerry" Adams was born on October 6, 1948, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The large family was of Catholic background, and years later Adams wrote of the persecution suffered by the region's religious minority under British control.
Ireland, or the Irish Republic, gained its independence from the British empire during the 1920s, while the mostly Protestant six counties of Northern Ireland remained a province of the United Kingdom. Catholic, or nationalist, parties pushed for unification of N. Ireland with the Irish Republic.
The Adams family members were known activists, though it was later revealed that Adams' father was a physically and sexually abusive presence in the home, with one of Adams' brothers facing similar allegations as well.
Having initially worked as a bartender, Adams participated in the N. Ireland Catholic civil rights protests that took place towards the end of the 1960s. The Londonderry march of 1968 saw the beginning of decades of conflict in Northern Ireland in what would be referred to as The Troubles, where thousands of people were killed.
With extremist activity seen on both sides, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) existed as an illegal paramilitary unit; questions abounded for years around how deeply and directly Adams was involved in the armed guerrilla/terrorist operations of the organization, whose actions claimed the lives of scores of civilians.
As a suspected top IRA operative, Adams was interred and held as a prisoner by the British during much of the 1970s. Upon his release, Adams turned decidedly to political strategies. In 1983 he was elected the head of Sinn Féin, the IRA's political party, as well as to the British parliament, though he didn't take his seat due to the tradition of pledging allegiance to the monarchy.
Some time after the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, Adams met privately with John Hume, the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, which was committed to nonviolent methods of Irish unification. The two leaders reached various points of agreement by the early 1990s, and by 1994, with approval by the U.S. Clinton administration, Adams was allowed to travel to New York City and speak on behalf of his party.
An initial IRA ceasefire was reached in 1994, and the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement was eventually signed in 1998, helping to establish self-rule in Northern Ireland with a multi-party system and also establishing electoral parameters for any future merging with the Irish Republic. Nonetheless, violence still flared and the demilitarization of the IRA wouldn't occur until the following decade.
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