Gerry Adams will be standing down as Sinn Fein president next year after more than three decades at the helm of the party.
Adams announced his intention to stand down on Saturday, telling the Sinn Fein ard fhéis (party conference) in Dublin: “Leadership means knowing when it is time for change.”
The 69-year-old republican veteran also said that he will not stand for election to the Irish parliament at the next election.
Adams, who has been party president since 1983, said a special meeting of the party would be called next year to elect a successor.
He told the conference: “I have always seen myself as a team player and a team builder.
“I have complete confidence in the leaders we elected this weekend and in the next generation of leaders.
“I want to thank everyone who has welcomed me into their homes and communities and who have made me part of countless campaigns, countless elections and countless negotiations.”
Adams said that his decision to stand down was formulated along with party colleague Martin McGuinness before his death earlier this year.
The outgoing leader said: “Last year Martin McGuinness and I said that there was a plan for change in the party leadership as part of the process of regeneration and renewal.
“Ten years after entering government with Ian Paisley, Martin’s intention was to step down as Deputy First Minister on May 8th.
“Then life punched us in the face.”
He said that the Peace Process was “one of our great achievements”, adding: “Republicanism has never been stronger. This is our time. We will grow even stronger in the future.”