Ireland: Gerry Adams to the rescue?

Sinn Fein leader and longtime fixture of Northern Irish politics Gerry Adams has announced that he is stepping down from his positions in the Northern Ireland assembly and Britich parliament — which he abstains from in any case — in order to seek office in the Republic of Ireland. “As leader of Sinn Féin, I ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Sinn Fein leader and longtime fixture of Northern Irish politics Gerry Adams has announced that he is stepping down from his positions in the Northern Ireland assembly and Britich parliament -- which he abstains from in any case -- in order to seek office in the Republic of Ireland.

“As leader of Sinn Féin, I want to be part of the necessary fightback against bad economic policies in both parts of this island and for a fair, decent, and united society for all the people of Ireland,” he said on Irish radio.

Adams is seeking election in County Louth, just south of the Northern Irish border, hoping to capitalize on voter anger over the dire state of the Irish economy. It's a major shift in priority for the nationalist party which is a major factor in Belfast but has only a small presence in the South. 

Sinn Fein leader and longtime fixture of Northern Irish politics Gerry Adams has announced that he is stepping down from his positions in the Northern Ireland assembly and Britich parliament — which he abstains from in any case — in order to seek office in the Republic of Ireland.

“As leader of Sinn Féin, I want to be part of the necessary fightback against bad economic policies in both parts of this island and for a fair, decent, and united society for all the people of Ireland,” he said on Irish radio.

Adams is seeking election in County Louth, just south of the Northern Irish border, hoping to capitalize on voter anger over the dire state of the Irish economy. It’s a major shift in priority for the nationalist party which is a major factor in Belfast but has only a small presence in the South. 

Despite his high profile, the IRA militant turned peacemaker may face an uphill battle. Sinn Fein takes generally left-wing positions  but is better known for its nationalism than its economic policies. Additionally, Adams admittedly isn’t so up to speed on the local issues in his new constituency:

Speaking in Drogheda, he said he could not be expected to know everything at this point.

“I will learn all of that, I will be briefed up on all of that. I could tell you how the grass grows in west Belfast and if I didn’t know, I know people who do know,” he said.

For those wondering — as I did — how it’s legal for Adams to run not only in a different constituency but in a different country, Ireland’s Nationality Law, first adopted in 1956, allows anyone born on the island, North or South, to declare citizenship in the Republic.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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