The wife of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has described her struggle with cancer as a “terrifying and emotional experience”.
Mr Adams revealed earlier this week that his wife Colette had been diagnosed with cancer a month ago and had last week undergone surge ry.
In a statement released subsequently, Mrs Adams said her diagnosis had been “a difficult experience for me and those dose to me”.
Mrs Adams said consultants had told her that they believed the surgery she had undergone had been a success.
“Cancer is a frightening disease,~ she said. “It is impossible to describe. However, I am very positive and determined to get well again.”
Mrs Adams said the “crucial lesson” from her experience was “the importance of early detection”.
“No matter what age you are there is an absolute need lor men and women who have any concerns whatever about their health to seek early medical advice, she said .
“Don’t be embarrassed or concerned about speaking to your doctor. He or she is your friend.”
There were no other candidates standing and Gerry Adams was unanimously selected to represent Sinn Fein in the next Westminster election in a few months.
At the selection convention to agree the party’s Westminster election candidate for west Belfast, Mr Adams said the news of his wife’s cancer was “a huge shock”.
“Last Thursday she had surgery. It went well. And she is in good spirits.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the medical and health staff and our own doctor for their good work.
“I also want to thank Colette’s friends and those of you who knew and who have been very supportive.”
Mr Adams, who was unopposed as the Sinn Fein election candidate for west Belfast, thanked the convention for their support and criticised those who had attacked him following accusations on UTV and in newsprint that he helped to cover up child abuse alleged against his brother.
“Let me begin by telling you that prior to the broadcast of the UTV programme in December I asked to meet with the Belfast and west Belfast leadership to inform them of the programme and of my view that the difficulties faced by my family were likely to be used to attack me and the party.
!I have never done anything deliberately to harm republicanism, the struggle or Sinn Fein and I believed that the leaderships here in the city had the right to know what was likely to develop.
“We met again just over a week ago and reviewed the situation, including the deliberate and despicable and untruthful campaign that some elements of the media have engaged in against me.
“I want to thank everyone who has expressed their solidarity with me and with my family since December. We have been uplifted by the good wishes of countless people.”
Mr Adams said he had always taken his responsibilities as an elected representative very seriously.
“I am proud to represent this constituency for Sinn Fein. I am proud to be a member of this activist community and to represent the people of this proud republican heartland.
“Every election we have fought since the Assembly election of 1982 has been fought not just against the SDLP and the unionists but also against the Irish Labour Party, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, at times the Catholic Hierarchy and the establishment media.
“We have met the challenge head on and prevailed!
“Sinn Fein has helped transform west Belfast. We have ably and conscientiously represented all the people and our increasing vote and public representation is recognition of this fact. Working in partnership with community organisations we have succeeded in effecting real change in peoples lives.
“Working through the peace process and the political institutions Sinn Fein in west Belfast has encouraged and secured investment, employment, training, new build projects, progress on projects like Conway Mill, the Colin Gateway Initiative, the Shankill Peacewall Art Project, planned improvements in roads and transport infrastructure, environmental progress, the growth of the Irish language, and much more.
“This party provides a constituency service unrivalled on this island and we are proud of the support and help we provide to those in need.”
Mr Adams said the “effectiveness” of Sinn Fein was evident also in the recent agreement reached at Hillsborough.
“Sinn Fein is an Irish Republican Party. We are still the only all-Ireland party. We are the only party with credibility on national independence. Our primary goal is a free, independent and United Ireland. Everything we do as Irish republicans is about building political strength to advance and achieve this.
“This weekend Sinn Fein will host a conference in London to encourage the debate on a United Ireland. This is the latest in a series of such conferences.”
Concluding, Mr Adams said he was proud to be Sinn Fein’s representative in west Belfast.
“Sinn Fein is for citizens and citizens rights. We are determined to uphold the rights and entitlements of citizens. To make a difference to their quality of life. To build communities where people enjoy equal citizenship.”