Finding the Politics of Northern Ireland

Gerry Adams recalls how he got involved in Sinn Fein.
  • Transcript


Question: How did you get involved in the politics of Northern Ireland?

Gerry Adams: I failed an exam which was called the Eleven Plus. But then; again the following year, so I ended up at grammar school. And I suppose I would have ended up teaching. But I got caught up in the convulsion that became a conflict.

In 1964, in Paisely, who now leads the power-sharing  arrangements throughout; during an election, to come on to the Falls Road and take down the national flag, the Irish tri-color.

And the IUC when they received death threats, obliged him and went and took it down. And of course it was then a matter of honor, I suppose, for the people to put it back up again. So there was another sally into the area and then it was taken down again. I was going to school, and we passed the site where the flag was flown, which was an election office. And this was very exciting for us. We went back and forth to school, and there were a huge amount of armed police officers, armored cars. There was street violence for a few days.

And that sort of whetted my appetite. I started to read in a more political way. 1966 was the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. And that was marked with pageants, and with dramatic presentations, with republications of the writings of the leaders of _______ Pierce and Connelly, and others with poetry. And just a big celebration of this watershed event in Irish history.

I started to get a context then. I started to read. I became an Irish Republican as I started to read all of this. And then I joined Siin Fein. I dropped out of school. I became a founding member of the Civil Rights Association. And there you have it.


Recorded on: Oct 8, 2007