In pictures: A life in the public eye as one of the world's longest standing political leaders
Gerry Adams was born in October 1948 in Ballymurphy, west Belfast to a family steeped in republicanism.
As a young man he worked for a time as a barman at the Duke of York pub in Belfast city centre, before being interned without trial in 1972 to the Long Kesh camp at the Maze.
While still only 24 the then IRA leadership demanded he be released to take part in ceasefire talks with the British government.
At the secret meeting at Cheyne Walk in London along with Adams were Sean Mac Stiofain, then IRA chief of staff, Daithi O Conaill, Martin McGuinness, Seamus Twomey and Ivor Bell.
The well documented meeting was a disaster. Sean Mac Stiofain effectively demanded British withdrawal. Shortly afterwards IRA broke their ceasefire.
In 1977, Adams was remanded in the Maze prison on a charge of IRA membership but was later acquitted.
The 1981 Fermanagh by-election in which hunger striker Bobby Sands was elected MP a month before his death, signalled the start of Sinn Féin's political campaign.
Two years later Gerry Adams became MP for West Belfast, the same year he replaced Ruairí Ó Bradaigh as president of Sinn Féin.
As the Troubles intensified so to did the British government's attempts to crush the rise of Sinn Féin's political ambitions.
In October 1988 Margaret Thatcher introduced a broadcast ban that meant Adams voice could not be heard on TV or radio.
Broadcasters quickly found ways around the ban, by dubbing the voice of anyone who was prevented from speaking with the voice of an actor, Adams voice was dubbed by Stephen Rea, who would later marry ex IRA prisoner Dolours Price. The ban lasted until September 1994.
In 1984, Gerry Adams survived a gun attack by the UDA in Belfast city centre, he and three companions were wounded when loyalist gunman John 'Grugg' Gregg opened fire.
A second murder attempt was made by Michael Stone at Milltown cemetery, in 1988 during funeral of three IRA members killed by the SAS in Gibraltar.
In 1998, the party voted to take seats in Stormont allowing for the power-sharing executive, which Adams stayed out of, letting Martin McGuinness take a senior ministerial post.
In January 2011, Gerry Adams resigned as West Belfast MP in order to run for election in the Republic in what was the start of the party's all island campaign.
When the Sinn Féin leader's brother Liam, was accused of child sexual abuse by his daughter Aine, who waived her right to anonymity, he publicly named his own father as a child sex abuser.
In 2013, Liam Adams was jailed for 16 years for raping and abusing his daughter.
The following year, Gerry Adams was arrested by detectives investigating the 1972 murder of Belfast woman Jean McConville based on interviews given by former IRA members to the botched Boston college oral archive project .
He was questioned for four days, before being released without charge.
He will step down officially in 2018, when a new leader, expected to be Mary Lou McDonald will be anointed, ending the political career of one of the world's longest standing leaders.