Times Online

Adams prays at his father's funeral for a united Ireland

By David Lister, Ireland Correspondent

GERRY ADAMS took time off from Northern Ireland’s election campaign yesterday to help to carry the coffin of his father through the streets of Belfast.
Delivering the homily at the funeral Mass of his 77-year-old father, also called Gerry, the Sinn Fein president prayed for “a united Ireland that will be free for all its people”.

About 500 people packed into St Michael’s Church in West Belfast to pay their respects to the father of Ireland’s most famous politician. They included John Hume, the former leader of the nationalist SDLP, Martin McGuinness, of Sinn Fein, and Sean Kelly, a convicted IRA bomber.

The service was led by three priests, including Father Alec Reid, a tireless go-between for Sinn Fein and the Government at the height of the Troubles.

Mr Adams was one of six men who shouldered his father’s coffin, draped in an Irish tricolour, as they set out towards Milltown Cemetery, the republican graveyard where Mr Adams Sr was buried yesterday afternoon.

Also among those attending were Pat Doherty, the Sinn Fein MP and vice-president, and Arthur Morgan and Martin Ferris, Sinn Fein representatives in the Irish parliament. Mr Ferris is a convicted IRA gun-runner.

Gerry Adams’s father, better known as “Pa Adams”, was one of a tiny clique of senior republicans who encouraged the birth of the Provisional IRA in 1969 after the failure of its predecessor, the Official IRA, to defend Roman Catholic areas of Belfast. From a generation of “trenchcoat and revolver men” who had been active in the IRA in the 1940s, he carried enormous respect among republicans in Belfast. In 1942, at the age of 16, Mr Adams was wounded during a gun battle with police in Belfast that had been intended as one of a wave of IRA strikes against the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

After an attempted murder charge was dropped, he was sentenced to eight years for possessing ammunition.

He died on Monday after a protracted illness.

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