Gerry Adams (Irish: Gearóid Mac Ádhaimh; born 6 October 1948 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) is an Irish republican politician and Teachta Dála (TD) for the constituency of Louth. From 1983 to 1992 and from 1997 to 2011, he was an abstentionist Westminster Member of Parliament for Belfast West. He is the president of Sinn Féin, the second largest political party in Northern Ireland and the largest nationalist party. From the late 1980s onwards, Adams was an important figure in the Northern Ireland peace process, initially following contact by the then Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader John Hume and subsequently with the Irish and British governments and then other parties. In 2005, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) indicated that its armed campaign was over and that it is now exclusively committed to democratic politics. Under Adams, Sinn Féin changed its traditional policy of abstentionism towards Oireachtas Éireann, the parliament of the Republic of Ireland, in 1986 and later took seats in the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly. However, Sinn Féin retains a policy of abstentionism towards the Westminster Parliament, but since 2002, receives allowances for staff and takes up offices in the House of Commons. In 2011 he was given the British title of Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead to allow him to resign from the House of Commons and to stand for election in the Dáil.
Adams' parents, Gerry Adams Sr. and Annie Hannaway came from republican backgrounds. Adams' grandfather, also called Gerry Adams, had been a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) during the Irish War of Independence. Two of Adams' uncles, Dominic and Patrick Adams, had been interned by the governments in Belfast and Dublin. Although it is reported that his uncle Dominic was a one-time IRA chief of staff, J. Bowyer Bell states in his book, The Secret Army: The IRA 1916 (Irish Academy Press), that Dominic Adams was a senior figure in the IRA of the mid-1940s. Gerry Sr. joined the IRA at age sixteen. In 1942, he participated in an IRA ambush on a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) patrol but was himself shot, arrested and sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
Adams' maternal great-grandfather, Michael Hannaway, was a member of the Fenians during their dynamiting campaign in England in the 1860s and 1870s. Michael's son, Billy, was election agent for Éamon de Valera in 1918 in West Belfast but refused to follow de Valera into democratic and constitutional politics upon the formation of Fianna Fáil.