Gerry Adams

He's the man they couldn't put down.

Despite efforts to blacken him through family links to his accused pedophile brother and a nasty book that accused him of committing atrocities, Gerry Adams has once again proved himself king of West Belfast and Northern Irish politics.

He can now claim to be  the single most popular politician in Northern Ireland after his massive 24,840 votes gave him the biggest majority of any politician in Northern Ireland.

His closest rival got just 5,261 votes.

Not only that but Sinn Fein have emerged as the largest single party after the British election. They polled a total of 171,000 votes, 3,000 more than the Democratic Unionist Party.

If that result were repeated in the Assembly election Sinn Fein would elect the First Minister of Northern Ireland.

It was a massive endorsement for Adams who had to face huge family trials and a range of accusations accusing him of a sellout on the peace process.

Sinn Fein's opponents thought the revelations were enough to damage him politically.

Last December, it was revealed that his brother Liam was accused of sexually abusing his daughter and his father was an acknowledged pedophile.

A major book by journalist Ed Moloney also claimed that Gerry Adams was involved in the IRA murder of one of the "Disappeared" - people abducted, and killed  by the IRA during the Troubles.

The book also contained damaging accusations by his former Republican colleague Brendan Hughes.

But Adams silenced the critics with an extraordinary performance. He can now look forward to a front seat and key negotiating role as Northern Irish politics enters another new phase.