PW: Why did you decide to write your autobiography [A Farther Shore] now?
Gerry Adams: Well, I believe that everybody has a story to tell. And very few people have the opportunity to tell it to a wide audience. While it's autobiographical, it's also a story about a process. It's an insight into people who made personal journeys to try and, I suppose, build idle conflict into a just compensation. I go back and forth to the States, and it's always still a fascination to me that so many people from Irish-America, first, second and third generation, come out, listen and are interested in what's happening in Ireland. I think they need to know the role that they have been able to play in this. Through their outreach, through their keeping faith with the struggle in Ireland, you had the pivotal role played by President Clinton, and I give an insight into that.
PW: Just how important was President Clinton's contribution to the Good Friday Agreement?
GA: I think, first of all, in the timing. The timing of his presidency, the way he picked up on the issues, showed leadership, encouraged movement, in the build-up to the Good Friday Agreement. I suppose in many ways in what was a relatively small thing, but also hugely symbolic and important, is the granting of a visa to me. [During the negotiations of the Good Friday Agreement, Clinton] pledged U.S. support, so that was very important. It's very important in a situation where people are struggling for rights that they know there's somebody outside the frame who's prepared to stand with them.
PW: You've been compared to Irish icon Michael Collins because of your negotiating skills. Is the comparison fair?
GA: Except that he's dead! I said to our people, at least they had the grace to shoot Michael Collins, and they're trying to kill me through this negotiating process! Well, I think that the revision of Irish history, in the very best sense of revisionism, of actually looking at the figures maybe has cast Michael Collins in a slightly different light than he would have been traditionally seen, say, 60 or 70 years ago. But I think, if you throw up those examples, say, from Wolfe Tone to Michael Collins—and, as I said, I'm me and I don't like comparisons with other people—I think it shows you the enormity of the task of trying to complete, because all those people failed and it wasn't because they weren't dedicated or smart or courageous. If freedom was awarded the people on the bases of virtue, or right, or justice, or determination, or tenacity, then the Irish would have had it because the Irish have never bowed the knee in all the years of the conquest. There's always been people prepared to keep the faith and try and bring about freedom and justice and peace on this island.
PW: What's your reaction when people refer to you as a terrorist?
GA: Well, depending on the company I'm in! I would remind them, for example, that George Washington was described in that way. That the White House, which was actually designed by an Irishman, was burnt by the British. Margaret Thatcher refused to meet Nelson Mandela because he was a terrorist. That's as old as Cain and Abel. In many ways, it trivializes the situation. It's easy. It's sticks-'n'-stones. You don't have to face the actual issue, you can just dismiss it, you can dehumanize someone. I don't mind what people call me, to tell you the truth, but I would like to think that thoughtful people would be more interested in issues, not in name-calling.