Gerry Adams is the pre-eminent republican activist of our times. A former President of Sinn Féin, he served as MP for West Belfast and as a TD in the Dáil over a four-decade period of frontline elected politics.
He is the author of several books including Before the Dawn, The Street and Other Stories and Falls Memories. His latest collection of short stories The Witness Trees will be published in the autumn.
He describes himself as "an optimistic and hopeful activist" and publishes a famed Twitter account.
IT'S the age we’re at, I tell myself and my declining peer group as we attend funeral after funeral this last wee while. The great wheel of life is now turning for our generation.
FATHER Des Wilson died in November 2019. I first met him in 1968. His long life was dedicated to helping people. During the years of conflict, he stood with the Upper Springfield community against the aggression and violence of the British state forces. He gave comfort and solidarity to those in need and was hugely respected and loved.
THIS is my regularly updated tribute to the majority of candidates who won’t get elected. Think of them as you digest all the outcomes. Good luck to them all. Good luck especially to Sinn Féin’s candidates. I hope we have a great result.
THIS column supports the decision by First Minister Designate Michelle O'Neill and Northern Assembly Ceann Comhairle Alex Maskey to accept the invite to attend the coronation of the English King Charles. They do so in their capacity as representatives of all the people of the North.
THE three days of the conference to mark Agreement 25 at Queens' University, a quarter of a century after the Good Friday Agreement, was an opportunity to meet again many of those who were there when the Agreement was thrashed out in 1998. I was particularly happy to see George Mitchell. He was in great form and for me his speech was the highlight of conference. Lucid, reasoned, futuring and compelling.
AMONG those who attended the Easter Sunday commemoration in Belfast two weeks ago was John Montgomery. I haven’t seen John in many years and it was a delight to meet him again. John is originally from St James’ in West Belfast.
THE 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement has attracted considerable national and international interest in recent weeks. Part of this involved me travelling last week once again to the USA. It must be four years since I was last there. While a lot has changed politically in that time both here and in the US, some things never change – among them the multiple stamping in red capitals of SSSS (Secondary Security Screening Selection) on our boarding passes and suitcase labels. It is explained as a random process whereby travellers are selected for ‘enhanced’ searches. I have been getting the SSSS stamp on every visit to and from the USA for over 20 years. Randomly routine.
I AM writing this column in New York. Richard and I are here for the weekend working on my remarks for Monday night when President Bill Clinton and I will share reflections on the Good Friday Agreement negotiations and developments since then. I will return to this in next week’s column.
AT the beginning of the month Jeffrey Donaldson established a panel, which includes Peter Robinson, Arlene Foster and some business and legal people, to advise on the DUP’s approach to the Windsor Framework. Some have interpreted this as Donaldson buying time until the other side of the local government elections on May 18.
TUESDAY was the sixth anniversary of the death of my friend and comrade Martin McGuinness. I travelled to the Derry City Hotel that evening for a public conversation about my relationship with Martin with Roy Greenslade. Roy is an author, broadcaster and journalist who during a long and distinguished career has held a series of senior positions in many of London’s main newspapers.
THIS week Uachtarán Shinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald and Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill will be in the USA for the St Patrick’s Day events. St. Patrick’s Day – or week – is a regular part of the annual calendar for the Irish diaspora everywhere, but especially in the USA.
WEDNESDAY was International Women’s Day. It is a day set aside to celebrate the advances of women and their contribution to society and to draw attention to the inequalities and injustices still experienced by them. In the last week three woman friends of mine died.
AS this column goes to press it appears that the British PM Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, have reached an agreement on the Protocol – the so-called ‘Windsor Framework'. To add to the excitement Dame Arlene Foster is giving off because King Charles is having tea with Ursula von der Leyen – a proverbial storm in a teacup. The next few days – or longer – will see how the new agreement goes down, particularly among the Brexiteers here in the North. Remember the majority of people here voted against Brexit. Watch this space.
AS I write this column the rumours are rife that the European Commission and the British Government are close to an agreement – maybe – on the Protocol. It could be this week, it could be next week, it could be tomorrow. It may be done by the time you get to read this. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added to the speculation by jetting into the North last Friday to brief the parties.
REPUBLICANS don’t say thank you often enough to each other. Fra McCann and Alex Maskey are 50-year activists. That is, they have both been involved in the struggle for over 50 years. The two of them stepped down from the Assembly two years ago. Fra was replaced by Aisling Reilly and Alex by Danny Baker. Alex still remains the Ceann Comhairle – Speaker of the Assembly – until such times as the DUP agree to elect a new Speaker.