Gerry Adams: I don't care how history will judge me

Outgoing Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
Outgoing Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams

Outgoing Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has insisted he does not care how history will judge him.

As he prepares to hand over the reins to Mary-Lou McDonald, the 69-year-old barman turned republican leader said he accepts that some people will detest him and others will admire him for his actions throughout his political life.

Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams

He said he does not care what he is remembered for because he believes he did the best he could.

"I don't mind. If I thought about it very deeply those people who detest me will continue to detest me. Those people who admire me will continue to admire me.

"All I did in the course of the job, I was doing my best. And I think that is all we can do. I am satisfied I have done my best," he said.

Mr Adams, who has always denied being a member of the IRA, has been both hailed as a peacemaker and vilified as a terrorist.

Mary Lou McDonald will succeed Gerry Adams as president of Sinn Fein

Mary Lou McDonald will succeed Gerry Adams as president of Sinn Fein

Reflecting upon the thousands of people killed and injured during the Troubles, he said it was something he regrets.

"I regret the fact anyone was killed, particularly those who were killed by the IRA. Of course I do.

"All victims deserve the truth and justice and their families deserve that.

"People will judge me whatever way they want to judge me and I accept that. I have been very moved by the generosity and grace of some people who were really hurt in the conflict.

Gerry Adams pictured with Martin McGuinness

Gerry Adams pictured with Martin McGuinness

"That has been quite inspirational, to meet people who were prepared to set aside that hurt for the common good.

"What we all have to do is make sure it never happens again," he said.

When asked how he would judge himself, Mr Adams replied: "To tell you the truth, I haven't thought of that.

"I am a very good dancer, I sing extremely well, I am a half-decent cook, I have written a wee bit, I like walking, but I'm comfortable in my own skin and I am surrounded by some wonderful people, a great family, my wife, people who love me.

"The most important thing in life is friendship and the most important thing you can give to anyone is time. So I am blessed with friends and all this time," he said.

Mr Adams added that he felt "blessed" to still be alive, having survived a number of assassination attempts.

He was once shot in the neck, shoulder and arm as a number of gunmen opened fire on his car in 1984. He also had a hand grenade thrown into his home.

"I have escaped a number of attempts to kill me and so on. I have been blessed by some very incompetent assassins, so there are lots of good things in life," he said.

On Saturday, Mr Adams will pass on the Sinn Fein presidency after more than 34 years in the post.

Around 2,000 delegates are expected to gather at the RDS in Dublin for the ratification of Dublin Central TD Ms McDonald as his successor.

Sinn Fein's Northern Ireland leader, Michelle O'Neill, will be proposed for the vice-president position.