|Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams said yesterday that he intends to resign his political posts in Northern Ireland. (Peter Morrison/ Associated Press)|
KILKENNY, Ireland — Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams announced yesterday that he intends to quit his political posts in Northern Ireland and seek election to Parliament in the Republic of Ireland, a surprise gambit timed to capitalize on the economic crisis.
Adams told supporters in the border county of Louth he would seek to win one of the area’s seats whenever Prime Minister Brian Cowen calls a general election. Adams said he would resign as the British Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly member for Catholic west Belfast, his lifetime power base.
Cowen, who since 2008 has overseen Ireland’s slide from Celtic Tiger to European deficit leader, has only a three-vote majority in Ireland’s Parliament. His Fianna Fail party expects to lose a Nov. 25 by-election to Sinn Fein, cutting its majority to two.
Three further by-elections are expected to end in government losses, destroying Cowen’s ability to cling to power through a full term ending in 2012. Most analysts consider an election sometime in 2011 almost certain.
The Belfast-born Adams, 62, is an Irish Republican Army veteran and leader of Sinn Fein since 1983, when he won the British Parliamentary seat for West Belfast for the first time. Adams and four other Sinn Fein figures who hold House of Commons posts refuse to take their seats in London, citing its requirement for an oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.