KILKENNY, Ireland — Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams announced Sunday he intended 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.
"I have asked people to make a stand. I believe that it is my duty at this critical time to step forward and do what I have asked of others," he told supporters beside a memorial to five IRA men who accidentally blew themselves up in 1957.
Cowen, who since 2008 has overseen Ireland's rapid demise from Celtic Tiger to European deficit leader, has only a three-vote majority in Dail Eireann, Ireland's parliament. His Fianna Fail party expects to lose a Nov. 25 by-election to Sinn Fein, cutting its majority to two.