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What will Sinn Fein do when Gerry Adams is gone?

Gerry Adams is in the thick of it again in Northern Ireland. It is like he never left the place and sees himself as a dual-jurisdictional politician.

He is one of the most controversial political figures in the world and one of the most divisive. Sinn Fein and the peace process cannot seem to do without him.

When push comes to shove, Gerry is there at the signal box, pulling the levers in deciding what comes and goes. Long gone are the days of ‘accommodation’, ushered out by Adams in lieu of today’s demands and ultimatums.

Brexit was a terrible blow to Adams and Sinn Fein in taking NI out of the EU bloc, which spurred the decision to leave the Executive.

This is why we are seeing all the obstructionism by SF in coming up with anything and everything to throw a spanner in the works.

Gerry Adams has been extensively credited with having enormous influence in both SF and its military wing, the IRA. Adams’ attitude towards matters in NI has been pivotal to any progress. In fact, one could say he could hold it to ransom — if he decided to do so.

His all-or-nothing attitude to the Irish language and the discontinuation of Stormont without it is proof of his enormous role in Northern Ireland’s affairs.

But some day Gerry Adams will not exist and, when that time comes, SF will be in a very lonely place. Will the process cease to exist — given his crucial role in it? Will the IRA’s campaign be reignited without his direction in winning over the extremists? Will SF be no more? Are SF a one-man (Gerry Adams) band?

Important questions for the future of republicanism in NI — and for any power-sharing administration.

MAURICE FITZGERALD

Shanbally, Co Cork

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