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.
Question: What story is missing from the news?
Gerry Adams: Well the big issue which doesn’t actually get the focus that it requires are issues of global poverty in the developing world. There are still babies dying of diarrhea. And even the length of time that it takes us to do this interview, maybe 10,000 babies will have died from curable diseases.
The news media has been dumbed down in many ways and deals with with celebrity and trivial or superficial matters; maybe it’s a bird which needs to be fed. There’s so much media that deals with big atrocities or conflict situations.
But beneath all of that are issues, which I firmly believe, that people knew that a child diarrhea can be cured for two cents. Two cents. A small sachet of salt and sugar will stop a child from dying of diarrhea. If people knew that they would do something about it.
Recorded on: Oct 8, 2007