Christiane speaks to two powerful women trying to change the military justice system.
By Mick Krever
(CNN) - Seven years after the IRA lay down its arms, its former commander has shaken hands with the British Queen.
And Gerry Adams, longtime leader of the IRA’s former political wing, Sinn Fein, was concise in describing the meeting.
“The only way you can build peace is actually to show leadership, and Martin did that,” Gerry Adams told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
He was referring to Martin McGuinness, who met in private with the Queen before a historic public photo-op.
The Northern Irish “Troubles” spanned decades and lay waste to nearly 3,600 people in the past thirty years; they are, unsurprisingly, still alive to many people in Northern Ireland.
“There are lots of republicans who would disagree with what we’re doing,” Adams acknowledged. “But they’ll stay supporting us and they’ll stay supporting the peace process.”
Meeting with the Queen, Adams said, “was a very, very good thing to do.”
“When [Martin] shook hands with the Queen he was actually symbolically shaking hands with the hundreds of thousands of unionists.”
Adams was reluctant to offer up Ireland’s reconciliation as an example for other sectarian conflicts.
“Our island is still partitioned. We have a legacy of conflict; many outstanding issues,” he said. “I don’t think we have any right to preach or to impose or to lecture others.”
Adams, and McGuinness for that matter, is still steadfast in his belief that Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, should be part of an independent Ireland.
But to reach a point where the British Queen could meet in Northern Ireland with a former rebel leader took extraordinary effort.
“It’s easier to make war, ironically enough, than it is to make peace,” Adams said, “because there aren’t any certainties about peace processes. You have to deal with the other person who was your enemy as a human being.”
The handshake has moved Ireland and the U.K. “onto a different plane, onto a different phase in the relationship building,” he said.
“Who could refuse to talk now on the island of Ireland when these iconic figures are showing the example that they showed today?”