Belfast Telegraph

Adams in final speech at Stormont

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has ended his Stormont career by praising the "remarkable" achievement of power-sharing.

The West Belfast MLA, 62, is standing as a candidate for Louth in the Republic of Ireland's elections to the Dail next year.

He said when next spring's Stormont elections are held it would be the first time the legislature had survived a full four-year term. But he warned public representatives would be judged on their ability to deliver for ordinary people.

"The Assembly is approaching the end of its first full term and that is a remarkable achievement given the difficulties that have had to be overcome," the party leader said.

"This Assembly is about delivering for citizens. The island of Ireland is too small for us to be separated forever by an artificial border, most sensible people know this and the Good Friday Agreement recognises this.

"God speed the day when we will be united."

Mr Adams was a central player in the negotiations leading up to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. He has been an MLA for west Belfast since the Assembly was elected in June of that year.

However it took until November 1999 for an Executive to be elected after the intervention of former US Senator George Mitchell. In February 2000 the Assembly was suspended after no deal was struck on decommissioning IRA arms.

Mr Adams led Sinn Fein's court challenge to former Ulster Unionist First Minister David Trimble's ban on the party participating in North/South Ministerial Council meetings.

He was instrumental in helping persuade the IRA to disarm. Following months of talks, in April 2005, he appealed to the IRA to help rebuild the political process and embrace democratic means. In July the IRA formally ordered an end to its armed campaign. In September that year arms decommissioning body head General John de Chastelain said the IRA had put all of its weapons beyond use.

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