Mr Gerry Adams senior, a veteran republican and a former prisoner, has died after an illness at the Royal Victoria Hospital in west Belfast.

Sinn Féin President Mr Gerry Adams today cancelled his involvement in Assembly election campaigning after his father died in hospital.

Mr Adams confirmed the news after pulling out of the party's manifesto launch for the November 26th election. The West Belfast MP read a statement from his family.

He said: ``My father died this morning. He was ill for some time and on behalf of our family I wanted to thank staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital, our family doctor and all who attended to him.

``This is the second bereavement in my family circle in the last week. I will be cancelling public engagements at this time. I want to put on record that we appreciate the support and solidarity of colleagues and comrades at this time.''

Mr Adams senior was injured in a shoot-out with the the RUC in 1942. He was charged with attempted murder and possessing an illegal firearm.

Before being sentenced to eight years he told the judge, Mr Justice Brown, that ``as a soldier of the Irish Republican Army I do not recognise this court''. On November 26, 1942, he became convict number 365C and entered Belfast's Crumlin Road prison.

Following his release, he founded the Felons Association for former prisoners in West Belfast with Joe Campbell, a fellow prisoner.

Last week Gerry Adams' sister-in-law also died.

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Mr Martin McGuinness expressed the party's condolences to the family.

He said: ``On behalf of the Sinn Féin leadership and the wider republican constituency I want to extend sympathy and solidarity to the Adams family and to Gerry on the death of his father Gerry Adams senior this morning.

``Gerry Adams senior was well known throughout Belfast and further afield. He was a republican prisoner in the 1940s. He was one of the founding members of the Irish Republican Felons Association and a long time member of the Belfast National Graves Association.

``He will be missed greatly by all of us who knew him but particularly by his large family circle.

``I measc laochra na a raibh se.''

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© 2003 Irish Republican News