Gerard Adams is an Irish Republican politician and abstentionist Westminster Member of Parliament for Belfast West. He is President of Provisional Sinn Féin, which became the largest nationalist, republican or pro-Belfast Agreement political party in Northern Ireland in the 2005 UK general election.
Adams is a spokesman for the “Irish republican movement” or the “Provisional movement” which encompasses Provisional Sinn Féin and the paramilitary Provisional Irish Republican Army (Provisional IRA), an illegal paramilitary organization in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. He is widely regarded as playing a pivotal role in getting the PIRA to give up its “war” against the UK in return for devolved government for Northern Ireland.
From the late 1980s, 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. Under Adams, Sinn Féin changed its traditional policy of abstentionism towards Leinster House in 1986 and later to take seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly, although the party retains a policy of abstentionism towards Westminster.