Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams is seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in central Belfast on March 14, 1984. As the car containing Adams and four other leading Sinn Féin members leaves Belfast Magistrate’s Court, a vehicle pulls alongside and three Ulster Defence Association (UDA) gunmen fire approximately 20 shots into the car. Adams is shot in the neck and shoulder, Seán Keenan in the face, Joe Keenan in the body and hands, and Kevin Rooney in the body. Bob Murray is the only person in the car to escape without injury.
The republicans are in Belfast facing charges of obstruction after the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) attempt to remove an Irish tricolour from a Sinn Féin election cavalcade. After the shooting, Adams is rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where he undergoes surgery to remove the three bullets.
The three loyalist death squad members who carry out the assassination attempt are arrested shortly after the attack by off-duty RUC and British soldiers who open fire on them before ramming their car. One of the UDA gunmen accidentally shoots himself in the foot during the escape attempt.
Following his release from the hospital later in the month, Gerry Adams says it is “quite obvious that British Intelligence were aware” of the operation and that “they wanted myself and my comrades out of the way.” Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Stormont Assembly member George Seawright expresses regret that Adams has not been killed. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the British Government remain tight-lipped while Will Glendinning of the Alliance Party uses the attack to remind voters he was “totally opposed to the politics of Gerry Adams.”
A Sinn Féin statement released just hours after the attack says “If the shooting was an attempt to drive us off the streets or underground, it has already failed.” The party says that such attacks are a constant danger, and that it is a testament to Sinn Féin that they continue their work despite such threats.