Gerry Adams: I won't be a puppet master
Outgoing Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has denied he will be a puppet master for his successor.
Mr Adams announced he would be stepping down as leader after 34 years in charge of the republican party.
It's widely believed that his current deputy, Mary Lou McDonald, will replace him this year.
In an interview with the Irish Times, Mr Adams said he was looking forward to leaving behind the "dross and tedium" of dealing with "every single issue".
The 69-year-old said that he hoped to assist his successor if his health allows, but has "no intention or desire" of dictating from the sidelines.
"I listen to this nonsense that in some way I will control things," he said.
"Why is there not a presumption that Enda Kenny is controlling Fine Gael or that Eamon Gilmore [is controlling Labour] or Bertie Ahern [is controlling Fianna Fail]?
"I have done my best, I am happy with what I have done, but the people in charge of the leadership don't want anybody... they are not puppets."
Mr Adams said in the summer of 2016 he had cemented his plans to step down with the late Martin McGuinness.
Mr Adams said had it not been for his right-hand man's death early last year, the plan had been for both to announce their joint retirement in the summer of 2017 at the party's ard fheis.
Although no-one else other than Ms McDonald has expressed an interest in the leadership, Mr Adams said he would be loyal to whoever took over.
"If you elect anyone into the position of leadership, you have to support them," he said.
"So whoever we elect at the ard fheis, I will support them. I will never criticise them. I think it is a huge thing for people to put their name forward for this responsibility."
Regarding the stalemate at Stormont, he cited a lack of manners from the DUP as a key obstacle, in addition to an Irish Language Act and making same sex marriage legal.
"I understand all of us can say things that people find objectionable but there is a difference between me misspeaking and you misspeaking and an entire system being offensive and refusing to tolerate," he told the newspaper.