This vain, poisonous liar says he's quitting... if only it was true: RUTH DUDLEY EDWARDS says Gerry Adams will continue to influence Sinn Fein even if he does step down
Gerry Adams said he will step down as president of Sinn Fein this weekend
Despite this Adams will keep pulling the Republican movement's strings
69-year-old Adams has served as party president since 1983
Gerry Adams announced he will resign as president of Sinn Fein, ostensibly to let a younger generation flourish, but in reality for his own shallow ends
Gerry Adams is a vain man for whom image is everything. So his weekend announcement to the adoring party faithful in Dublin was carefully staged.
Here was the freedom fighter turned man of peace, the eminence grise of Irish Republican politics and a statesman on the global stage, gracefully withdrawing to allow a new generation to flourish.
'Leadership means knowing when it's time for change and that time is now,' declared the 69-year-old who has been party president since 1983.
Yes, there were some tears, but there was also relief, while in pubs in both the North and South those watching his speech on television might well have raised their eyebrows as well as a glass.
For the truth is that this is a cynical ploy by Adams that few who know him – or Republican politics – take seriously.
There is some friction within Sinn Fein among ambitious younger politicians, resistance from voters who abhor his link with the IRA and the violence of the past, and ridicule of his ineptitude when it comes to issues of the day such as the economy. They also object to the bullying by Adams and his cronies if dissent is voiced.
He is, they feel, holding the party back. It is purely for electoral reasons that he has taken this decision.
But be in no doubt this poisonous man will still be manipulating the strings of the Republican movement which, over 50 years, has brought so much bloodshed and misery and sectarian hatred to Northern Ireland and beyond.
The remains of an IRA bomb victim are placed into a body bag during Bloody Friday in Belfast. Nine people died and 130 were injured when 20 bombs exploded in 80 minutes
Of course, Adams famously insists that he has never been a member of the IRA.
But as his critics have been pointing out for years now, this denial is rather at odds with him marching in IRA parades wearing a black beret, bearing terrorists' coffins on his shoulders, and being appointed Officer Commanding of Republican prisoners when he was in jail.
Both sides of Adams's family were staunch republicans and several were interned or imprisoned for IRA activities.
He was still a teenager when, in the late 1960s, he became an enthusiastic rioter in the civil rights campaign, which was hi-jacked by Republican paramilitaries.
Clever and articulate, in March 1972, when he was only 23, he was interned. But so well-regarded was he by senior IRA figures that he was released to be part of a delegation which held talks – ultimately futile – in London with the then Home Secretary, Willie Whitelaw.
This is a cynical ploy by Adams that few who know him take seriously
Many years later Brendan Hughes, a former close comrade of Adams who became disillusioned with the IRA, was secretly interviewed for an American archive.
He alleged that Adams was involved in two incidents that year as a senior member of the IRA's Belfast Brigade, claims that Adams has always denied.
Hughes admitted to being an organiser of what became known as Bloody Friday, a day of horror in July 1972 when the IRA let off 26 bombs in different locations in and around Belfast in less than an hour-and-a-half.
Nine people were killed including two British soldiers and five civilians, and 130 were injured, some of them horribly.
Adams and the other two senior figures who had agreed the plan bore as much responsibility as he did himself, said Hughes.
In December that year, there was the terrible death of Jean McConville. A 37-year-old widow with ten children, she had been suspected for no good reason of being an informer and was dragged from her maisonette in the Lower Falls Road – prised from the grip of her screaming six-year-old twins – by a pitiless female gang.
While Adams will give up his presidential title, be under no illusion that he will continue pulling the strings of the Republican movement
Hughes alleged that Adams ordered her execution and secret burial. In 2003 her skeleton was found on a beach in the Irish Republic.
Hughes's allegations were corroborated by Dolours Price, an IRA volunteer, who had driven McConville to the scene of her death; she alleged that Adams was her 'Officer Commanding' when she was in the IRA, and the man responsible in 1973 for ordering her to be part of a team that bombed the Old Bailey and injured 200.
In 2015, Northern Irish prosecutors announced that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Adams and others.
Over many decades Adams has been arrested and interrogated about IRA crimes, but he is tough and omerta rules in the IRA.
While Adams uses rhetoric about reconciliation, he stokes the fires of sectarian hatred
Many journalists, historians, commentators and politicians have claimed he was a key player on the IRA Army Council from the early 1970s, but he denies any involvement.
If they are right, then like Martin McGuinness, Adams is a murderer who ran a paramilitary organisation that killed around 1,800 people and inflicted appalling injuries on tens of thousands more.
It is true that Adams realised earlier than many Republicans that the IRA could not win a military victory and that Unionists could not be bullied and intimidated into a united Ireland.
He and McGuinness were the key people in persuading the leadership that the way forward was to have 'a ballot paper in one hand and an Armalite in the other'.
In the late 1980s, as it became obvious that the best the IRA could expect militarily was a stalemate, Adams embarked on developing 'the peace process', which after almost a decade – interspersed with occasional murders – would result in the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998.
Adams denies being a key player in the IRA Army Council, but this denial is at odds with him marching in IRA parades wearing a black beret and bearing terrorists' coffins on his shoulders
Yet while Adams uses fine rhetoric about reconciliation, he consistently stokes the fires of sectarian hatred. He is a cold man who is adept at using lies and hypocrisy to infuriate his opponents.
He is loathed by opponents in the Irish parliament, where his self-righteousness is matched only by his aggression.
He has trained his right-hand woman and designated successor, the deputy leader of Sinn Fein, Mary Lou McDonald, to be just as unpleasant and sanctimonious.
Although no longer an elected politician in the North, Adams operates there through the obedient Michelle O'Neill, leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, whom he appointed as McGuinness's successor.
Together they have made it impossible to do a deal to restore the Northern Ireland executive by constantly adding to a list of impossible demands other parties can never agree to.
In Northern Ireland, Adams knows that the Sinn Fein vote is boosted by encouraging tribal tensions and that won't stop any time soon. In the Republic, he remains focused on Sinn Fein getting into government.
And let's not forget the continuing influence of the IRA: Adams's inner circle which dictates Sinn Fein policy consists of mostly unelected IRA veterans.
Without Adams, Sinn Fein would falter and is at risk of fracture. He's not going anywhere.