"Always look on the bright side of life."

Gerard (Gerry) Adams is the president of Sinn Fein, the largest nationalist, Republican or pro-Belfast Agreement political party in Northern Ireland. He has been member of Parliament for Belfast West since 1997 and a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Belfast West since 1998. He is the Sinn Fein parliamentary leader in Dail Eireann, Ireland's House of Representatives.

From the late 1980s, Adams has been an important figure in the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Under Adams, Sinn Fein has moved toward being a professionally organized political party. He played a pivotal role in getting the IRA to give up its armed campaign against the UK in return for devolved government for Northern Ireland.

Adams was born in 1948 in West Belfast, Ireland, one of ten children who survived infancy in a nationalist Catholic family. He became involved in the Irish republian movement while working as a bartender, joining Sinn Fein and Fianna Eireann, the Irish Republican youth movement, in 1964. He was an active supporter of the Northern Ireland civil rights campaign in the late 1960s, and in 1967 he joined the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. After helping to navigate his party through violence and hunger strikes, Adams was eventually elected president in 1983, the first Sinn Fein MP to be elected to the British House of Commons since the 1950s, although in keeping with his party's policy, he has refused to sit in the House.

In 2007, less than two weeks after Adams was re-elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, he came to an agreement with Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley regarding the return of the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland. Adams remains a vigorous spokesman for the Irish Republican Movement.

  • Transcript


Gerry Adams: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Life is grand. I remember that being sung in prison.  I was imprisoned after a very, very brutal incursion into the prison wing.  And the prison officers beat everybody.  And the wing was deadly silent, and then from way down wing, you heard this little voice going “Always look on the bright side of life.”  And then within five minutes there were about 100 men singing it at the top of their voices. 

A song that came out of South Africa, the name of which I can’t remember, but it’s the how do you build your barricades.  I think it’s a Peter Gabriel song – “You are My Sunshine” and some older songs in the Irish language.


Recorded on: Oct 8, 2007