Gerry Adams to run for seat in Irish parliament

Sinn Féin president will step down from Northern Ireland assembly seat to contest general election

Gerry Adams confirmed today that he intends to stand in the Irish Republic's general election, which is expected to be held in 2011.

The Sinn Féin president said he wouldseek the nomination for the constituency of Louth. Adams will retain his West Belfast Westminster seat even though he does not attend the House of Commons. He will, however, step down from his seat in the Northern Ireland assembly.

In a statement released at a republican commemoration near the border with Northern Ireland, Adams said: "As leader of the only all-Ireland party with an all-island mandate, I have a choice to make whether to stay in West Belfast, a place that I love, or to seek a mandate in another constituency in the south.

"West Belfast is my home. It is where Colette and our family are and where I live. But after thoughtful consideration, and with the support of colleagues, I have decided to put my name forward for Louth. If elected for this constituency I will work and stay here and travel home when possible."

Adams will face tough questions from a mainly hostile southern Irish media if he seeks to stand for the Dáil. In particular, he will be questioned about his alleged role in the disappearance of Jean McConville in 1972. The widow's body was found three decades later in the Louth constituency on a beach on the east coast of Ireland.

The late IRA veteran Brendan "Darkie" Hughes alleged in a taped interview before his death that Adams gave the order that McConville be abducted, murdered and buried in secret because the Provisional IRA believed she was an informer. Hughes claimed that Adams established a secret unit of the IRA in Belfast to hunt down suspected informers in the nationalist community.

Adams has always denied any role in the woman's death and disappearance or even being in the IRA. Hughes's taped memoir, which was broadcast last month on Irish television, compared Adams's denial of IRA membership to "Hitler denying that there was ever a Holocaust".

The party has a seat in the Louth constituency but last week its current TD, Arthur Morgan, announced he would be stepping down at the next election to concentrate on his business.

However, there is no guarantee that Adams would retain the seat or find himself in a multi-party coalition government. In the most recent Irish general election Adams performed disastrously in a live leaders' debate on RTE television in which he was unable to answer questions on economic policies in the republic.

The 62-year-old has taken a political back seat to his main colleague, the deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, within Northern Ireland.

McGuinness said: "I was involved in the discussion of this proposition and have every confidence that Sinn Féin can retain the Dail seat in Louth, ensuring continuity of excellent representation for the people of that constituency."


Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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