- WATCH: Paul Reilly reports on Gerry Adams stepping down in 2018
Gerry Adams has told UTV the “time is right” for him to step aside as president of Sinn Féin, after announcing at the party Ard Fheis that he would do so in 2018.
Mr Adams has held the role since 1983, but will not be seeking re-election next year – neither will he be standing in the next Dáil election in the Republic of Ireland.
“It’s the right time,” he told UTV Deputy Political Editor Tracey Magee, in an interview on Monday.
When asked what he would say to those who claim he may no longer be “front of house”, but will still be behind-the-scenes and “pulling the strings”, he replied: “They’ll say that anyway.
“But mostly the people who say that are political opponents – and they’ll say whatever they think advances their own particular little cynical attack on our party.”
Mr Adams also responded to questions over the perceived glorification of the IRA at Sinn Féin’s Ard Fheis and what that mean for talk of reconciliation and respect.
While some of the loudest cheers of the night came when party delegates remembered the late Martin McGuinness as a “proud IRA man”, Mr Adams insisted he did not see that as glorification.
“That was a tribute to Martin McGuinness. It was no more or less than that,” he said.
Asked if he could ever see a time when he would himself admit to IRA membership – a long-running question - Mr Adams said: “My position on that is very, very clear.
“I have been transparent on the issue. I will never dissociate myself from the IRA.”
On the subject of IRA violence, Mr Adams added: “I particularly regret – particularly regret – the fact that ordinary people, citizens, civilians, were killed or injured at the hands of the IRA.”
When asked if he could imagine a time, or a context, in which he and members of the IRA could give the full truth about the organisation’s actions, the Sinn Féin leader said: “Well, the IRA’s gone.
“So there’s not going to be any corporate or organisational response.”
He did add that he believed Martin McGuinness “led by example when he went to the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday” and that he hoped he could continue to help those affected by the Troubles to get some form of closure.
Current Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald remains a clear favourite to assume a greater leadership role when Mr Adams eventually steps down as party president.
- WATCH: Gerry Adams talks to UTV Deputy Political Editor Tracey Magee