Gerry Adams is set to announce that he will retire as president of Sinn Fein.
The announcement will be made on stage of Dublin’s RDS conference, where after 34 years Mr Adams will step down and break the leadership’s link with republican violence.
The 69-year-old will detail a timetable for his departure and there are expectations that this could last around a year.
One veteran of the IRA’s West Belfast Brigade, who was once close to Mr Adams, said he believed that the Irish republican politician will retain some control of the party.
“Gerry made Sinn Féin in his own image. Whatever you think about him he was the master strategist,” the IRA veteran told The Guardian.
“He built Sinn Féin up into an efficient electoral machine. He guided the party and the movement away from war to peace. It could never have been done without him and he knows that.
“He still thinks he can push them on to power in the south [Irish Republic] as his final achievement. So he will be staying around, in the back room, working the controls.”
Mr Adams was elected as the MP for West Belfast in 1983 and won an internal vote to be Sinn Fein’s president in the same year.
He was part of the peace talks in Belfast that led to the Good Friday agreement, which was the major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s.