By Patrick Markey
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams left for Canada Monday after a two-week tour of the United States that included stops in five cities and a celebration of his 50th birthday in a New York nightclub.
Adams finished his fund-raising in Boston after meeting with political and business leaders on visits in Pittsburgh, New York City, Albany and Connecticut, where is spoke at Fairfield University’s Quick Center and had a pint at the Fairfield Gaelic American Club. On his last night in the United States, he paid a visit to the theater to see "Binlids," the play chronicling the life of women in West Belfast.
Speaking last Wednesday at a $500-a-plate dinner in New York’s Plaza Hotel, Adams said he was confident that the issues currently hounding the Good Friday Agreement could be resolved and called for the institutions laid out in the document to be implemented within the agreed time-frame.
"We did a deal, the two governments, ourselves, the other parties, and the deal was the best deal that could be done. I believe that we will see Irish unity because that is the way that the momentum and the dynamic of the situation are going to move," Adams said.
"In the longer term, we need to take a leap of imagination 10 years ahead, 12 years, 15 years ahead and try and visualize," the new situation between Ireland and Britain at that time, he said.
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"But at the moment what is needed is for the Good Friday Agreement to implemented across every single sector and every single clause."
On Saturday, Adams appeared at Webster Hall, a Manhattan nightclub, for a birthday bash. Hundreds of revelers gathered to help him celebrate. Webster Hall, a famous nightspot for more than 100 years, has hosted a field of celebrities, among them President Clinton and American pop diva Madonna. Transvestites and young clubgoers more often have the run of the place, but Saturday’s bash had a distinctly Irish flavor.
During the three-hour party, Adams watched from a balcony above the dancing crowd and got an impromptu birthday greeting from a pool of Celtic football supporters in green and white jerseys, several wearing kilts.
Surrounded by admirers, Adams tipped his glass slightly to acknowledge the crowd as they chanted happy birthday. The Celtic supporters had left another message scrawled on a banner draped over the balcony a few feet from where the Sinn Fein leader sat: "Happy birthday, Gerry from your fellow Fenian bastards, the New York Fenian Bhoys."
Between each of the acts, which ranged from the traditional to the modern Celtic hip hop of Seanchai, to Carly Simon, a bright green projection of the word "Saoirse" — freedom in Irish — faded back and forth on a screen over the stage.
After a montage video of scenes of struggle from Northern Ireland, Adams stepped on to the main stage to a chorus of "we love you, Gerry, we do." He blew out his birthday cake candles, listened to his official birthday greetings, and, clasping a New York Yankees cap, preached to the converted:
"The struggle for Irish Freedom is going to succeed," he said to raucous cheers. "Be sure of one thing, we are going to get freedom, we are going to get justice, we are going to get everlasting peace in Ireland."
"I’m going off now to have some birthday cake and have a pint," Adams said, before leaving the stage.
With that, the hall filled with the sounds of 1980s classic dance tracks, and the party continued.
Outside, as Adams entourage pulled away, the regular Webster Hall crowds lined up under a huge plastic pumpkin set up for Halloween, doormen shepherding invited guests through a side door and keeping the regular customers behind the wooden barriers.