Posted by Jim on February 10, 2018
As he prepares to hand over the reins to Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein
president Gerry Adams has been giving interviews and facing a welter of
last-minute criticism from of his political opponents.
He says his legacy is not an issue which he has concerned himself with,
because he believes he did the best he could.
“I don’t mind. If I thought about it very deeply those people who
detest me will continue to detest me. Those people who admire me will
continue to admire me.
“All I did in the course of the job, I was doing my best. And I think
that is all we can do. I am satisfied I have done my best,” he said.
Much of the media commentary has been speculation about Mr Adams
involvement with the IRA, something he has always denied.
Mr Adams said he first began peace efforts with Catholic priest Father
Alec Reid as far back as 1976 and 1977, several years before he became
the leader of Sinn Fein.
But it was not until 1988 that Fr Reid mediated Mr Adams’ dialogue with
the then SDLP leader John Hume, which led to the IRA ceasefire six
Mr Adams has said he regrets that it took until 1994 for the first IRA
ceasefire, but accused others of hiding behind a “subterfuge” of moral
denunciations to avoid dialogue.
“I regret the fact anyone was killed, particularly those who were
killed by the IRA. Of course I do,” he said. “All victims deserve the
truth and justice and their families deserve that.
“People will judge me whatever way they want to judge me and I accept
that. I have been very moved by the generosity and grace of some people
who were really hurt in the conflict.
“That has been quite inspirational, to meet people who were prepared to
set aside that hurt for the common good. What we all have to do is make
sure it never happens again.”
He said that when he and Mr Hume eventually met in 1988 they “did what
is just the imperative, the primacy of any process (which) is to talk,
“And out of that came the Hume/Adams principles,” he added.
Mr Adams criticised past British prime ministers who refused to talk to
Sinn Fein during the conflict and called them “the stupid ones.”
“Probably the toughest (prime ministers to deal with) were the stupid
ones who wouldn’t talk.
“If you consider that I was an elected official along with others and
other elected officials wouldn’t talk to us and the British prime
ministers handed over the future … to generals, to military bosses,
to people who brought in collusion, internment, shoot to kill and all
the rest of it and just militarised the situation with all the awful
consequences of that.”
Mr Adams said that John Major had the chance to help bring peace to the
north but failed to do so, while Tony Blair seized the opportunity
“with both hands”.
Mr Adams also said the idea of Irish unity has become more prevalent
since Britain decided to leave the European Union. Mr Adams said
however that he does not believe a united Ireland is inevitable.
“You have to work for it and you have to convince people. But we now
have a very peaceful and democratic way of achieving it,” he said.
Mr Adams added: “That means persuading people that the best way for all
of us on this island is if we govern ourselves. Why do we want English
people to govern us? Why do we want anybody but ourselves to govern
He said that at the “very core” of Irish unity was “uniting orange and
“(It’s) about harmony and peace between those two big traditions. And
as we become more multicultural it is also about making space for all
of those other folks out there who wouldn’t be part of the orange and
green tradition. It is about trying to build a tolerant, respectful,
citizens based, rights centred society,” said Mr Adams.
When asked how he would judge himself, Mr Adams replied: “To tell you
the truth, I haven’t thought of that.
“I am a very good dancer, I sing extremely well, I am a half-decent
cook, I have written a wee bit, I like walking, but I’m comfortable in
my own skin and I am surrounded by some wonderful people, a great
family, my wife, people who love me.
“The most important thing in life is friendship and the most important
thing you can give to anyone is time. So I am blessed with friends and
all this time,” he said.
Mr Adams added that he also felt “blessed” to still be alive, having
survived a number of assassination attempts.
“I have escaped a number of attempts to kill me and so on. I have been
blessed by some very incompetent assassins, so there are lots of good
things in life,” he said.
Thousands of Sinn Fein delegates are gathering today at the RDS in
Dublin to acclaim of Dublin Central TD Ms McDonald as his successor.
Sinn Fein’s northern leader, Michelle O’Neill, will also be elevated to
the vice-president position.
Mr Adams is passing on the Sinn Fein presidency after more than 34
years in the post.