Author's 'exasperation' with Gerry Adams as he launches unofficial biography of Sinn Fein leader
Former IRA prisoners were among those who attended the launch last night of an unauthorised biography of Gerry Adams.
SDLP politicians and writers from across Northern Ireland also gathered in the Ulster Museum for the launch of the book by journalist Malachi O'Doherty.
Speaking at the packed launch, Irish Times columnist Fintan O'Toole said: "Gerry Adams is one of the most remarkable political figures of our times, extraordinarily resilient and remarkably effective.
"But he also embodies the way a whole society has compartmentalised its understanding of itself, with normality in one room and blood and darkness in the other.
"Malachi O'Doherty's fine book dares to look in both rooms and is an important contribution to the possibility of a future that does not depend on the occlusion of the past."
Former IRA prisoner Richard O'Rawe, writers Glenn Patterson and Henry McDonald, SDLP MLA Claire Hanna, and former politicians Joe Hendron and Alban Maginness were at the event.
Mr Maginness said it was important that Mr O'Doherty had noted "what a crucial moment in our history it was when my colleague Joe Hendron won the West Belfast Westminster seat from Gerry Adams in 1992".
The former SDLP MLA said that Sinn Fein's loss had helped push the Provisional movement "in the direction of peace". Mr O'Doherty said: "It is exasperating that Gerry Adams will not acknowledge that he was a member of the IRA but routinely denies it, with the qualification that he will never disown the IRA.
"There is a paradox, that Adams himself was seen by many in the IRA around him in west Belfast and in Long Kesh, as not really one of them.
"When some wanted to bring guns into Ballymurphy for a rattle at the Army during the spring of almost nightly riots in 1970, they say Adams opposed that.
"It would have compromised his political project to wrong-foot the Army into exposing itself as the oppressor of the people.
"He wasn't like many others who had split from the IRA in rejection of its slow political approach.
"He brought those methods from the Officials and deployed them in the Provisionals."
- Gerry Adams: An Unauthorised Life by Malachi O'Doherty, Faber and Faber, £14.99