Gerry Adams (born October 6, 1948) has been the president of Sinn Fein, a political party in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland, since 1983. He has been elected to the United Kingdom parliament, for the Belfast West constituency, but has never formally taken up his seat, although he and other Sinn Fein MPs do make use of parliamentary facilities. Adams was one of the key figures in the Irish peace process, which culminated with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Gerard Adams (Gearóid Mac Ádhaimh in Irish) was born into a Catholic Nationalist family in West Belfast as one of ten siblings. Both sides of the family had an extensive history of involvement in Nationalist activities. Adams attended primary school in Belfast, but left school early to become a bartender, and joined Sinn Fein in 1964.
Adams was an important figure in the terrorist IRA from the early 1970s. He was interned without trial in 1971 but released in July 1972 to participate in negotiations with the British government. Adams has consistently denied ever being an IRA member.
In 1983, Adams became the first member of Sinn Fein to be elected to the UK House of Commons since 1918. Sinn Fein had generally not contested UK elections during that period, as a protest against UK rule in Northern Ireland. Adams is an abstentionist MP, meaning that he has never taken his seat in the House of Commons, consistent with Sinn Fein policy.
In March 1984 Adams survived an assassination attempt by members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters, or UFF, a terrorist group dedicated to maintaining the link between Northern Ireland and the UK. The UFF members were arrested shortly after the shooting by undercover officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and Adams has claimed that the police were aware that the assassination attempt was planned and allowed it to happen.