What is the world's biggest challenge in the coming decade?
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 are the world's biggest challenges?
Gerry Adams: You know here we are. This is being recorded in October . I’m in New York. It’s like an august day; it’s bright summer sunshine.
In Ireland to rained every day of the summer. And yet now we have a beautiful, sunny period. But that has its negatives everywhere else in the world. So the environment is a huge, huge issue.
I keep coming back to this issue of global poverty that can be cured; that we who live in the West need to remind ourselves that we're not the world, and that we do have the ability; it’s like the great plague.
If you're reading that during the great plague by the multitudes who are dying from this disease. People elsewhere had the cure for it, but didn’t use it.
Or similarly today, that there are people in the developing world who are being crippled by foreign debt; who are being crippled by the World Bank; who are being crippled by corruption in their own places; or who are being crippled by the fact that the developed world is turning a blind eye to what is happening. What that means isn’t just that people have a hard time, but it means that people actually don’t have a life at all. And I think that’s the big, big, big challenge.
Therefore issues like global warming will affect those people. When there are floods, it’s the poor people who suffer most. Even when you got the disaster in New Orleans, it was the poor people who suffered most. It’s always the case that the poorest are the people who suffer most because they don’t have the resources, the dwellings, the ability to meet what can be what are manmade or natural disasters.
Recorded on: Oct 8, 2007
Gerry Adams fears August in October.
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