Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Adams, Gerard, Jr. (1948–)

Irish politician and Sinn Féin party leader in Northern Ireland. Born on 6 October 1948 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Gerard "Gerry" Adams Jr. left school early and worked as a bartender. In 1964, he joined Sinn Féin, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Although Adams has always denied being a member of the IRA, British and Irish official sources suggest otherwise. Incarcerated in 1972 under the Special Powers Act, he was set free for peace talks that same year. However, he was imprisoned again from 1973 to 1977 and for a brief period in 1978.

After his release from prison in 1978, Adams assumed the vice presidency of Sinn Féin. As early as 1979, he tried to convince his party to give up violence and turn to political action. In 1983, the year he was elected to the House of Commons, he and the northern cadres took control of the republican movement. As the new president of Sinn Féin, Adams ended the party's policy of abstention so that party representatives could be seated in Parliament. A skillful political tactician, Adams has since managed to steer his followers toward a peaceful solution to the Northern Ireland conflict without causing the party to break apart. Although by no means an uncontroversial figure, he is viewed as one of the major engineers of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Matthias Trefs


Further Reading
Moloney, Ed. A Secret History of the IRA. New York: Norton, 2002.; Sharrock, David, and Mark Devenport. Man of War, Man of Peace? The Unauthorized Biography of Gerry Adams. London: Macmillan, 1997.
 

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