Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has dismissed predictions from a senior frontbench TD he will step down within five years, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Reporter.
Mr Adams insisted that he will not set a deadline as he is "not as foolish" as Taoiseach Enda Kenny,
Speaking at the MacGill summer school in the Glenties, Co Donegal yesterday, Sinn Féin's housing spokesperson Eoin O Broin said it is "quite possible" Mr Adams will step down by 2021.
"Is it [a change of party leadership] going to happen in the next year or two? I don't think so. Is it likely to happen in the next five years or so? That's quite possible," he said.
Mr O Broin's comments came just 24 hours after prominent Sinn Féin Co Cavan member, Tommy McNulty, took the extremely rare step of writing a letter to Belfast-based newspaper The Irish News to say Mr Adams' continuing reign is damaging the party and that he should leave now.
Referencing the party's 1986 ard fheis when Mr Adams and other Northern leaders took control of Sinn Féin from southerners like Ruairi O Bradiagh and Daithi O Conaill, Mr McNulty - who is the chair of the Virginia-Mullagh Sinn Féin cumann - said: "Just as there was a time for change in 1986, there is a time for change again in 2016.
"Sammy Davis junior once famously said that one of the greatest secrets of life was 'knowing when to get on the stage and knowing when to get off it'. I believe the time has come for Mr Adams to get off it."
The comments have re-ignited debate over when 67-year-old Mr Adams will eventually step down.
However, speaking to reporters in Leinster House today, the Sinn Féin leader said he has no plans to do so.
"He [Eoin O Broin] must know something I don't.
"No, not at all [in terms of whether he is planning to step down]. I don't have anything I want to discuss.
"My problem if I tell you, you're going to tell everybody.
"I'm not as foolish as [Taoiseach] Enda [Kenny], he did put a time frame and then had to crawl back on it," he said.
Speaking on Newstalk's Lunchtime programme this afternoon, Mr Adams' close confidante and Northern Ireland's deputy first minister Martin McGuinness said his leader has no intention of stepping down.
Mr McGuinness said Mr Adams will stay "as long as he wishes" and said it always "amuses me" to hear critics of Sinn Féin suggest the party would do better without him as they in reality "don't want Sinn Féin to do better".
However, he added that it is obvious the current hierarchy of Sinn Féin - including Mr Adams and McGuinness - "cannot go on forever" and that "we are consistently thinking of issues like transition".