Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has spoken publicly for the first time of the “huge shock” at discovering his wife has been diagnosed with cancer.
Mr Adams made the personal disclosure to hundreds of party supporters last night after he had been reselected to contest West Belfast in the upcoming General Election. He said his wife Colette was diagnosed a month ago.
Speaking at the selection convention in the Roddy McCorley club, he said that she had undergone surgery last week.
He also publicly thanked medical staff who treated her for their “good work”.
“A month ago Colette and I were told that she had cancer.
“As I am sure you will all understand, that was a huge shock,” he said.
“Last Thursday she had surgery. It went well and she is in good spirits.”
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the medical and health staff and our own doctor for their good work.”
Mr Adams also addressed the recent controversy surrounding the abuse allegations against his brother Liam.
He faced criticism after it emerged he had been informed of the allegations in 1987, although his brother continued working with young people and in the republican movement afterwards.
Mr Adams called for his brother to hand himself in to face the allegations. His family was also rocked by revelations Mr Adams’ father Gerry Snr was an abuser.
Mr Adams claimed “some elements of the media” had used recent difficulties faced by his family to attack him and his party.
There were no other candidates at the selection convention.