A public call from Sinn Féin's ranks for a change of leader is "completely unprecedented", according to commentator Brian Feeney.
The Irish News columnist said while there had been "murmurings of discontent" in the past, nobody had ever put their head above the parapet and urged Mr Adams to quit.
"There has been past criticism of the Sinn Féin leadership from disaffected party members but it's always following a resignation or expulsion," he said.
"The party members tend to operate a policy of 'speak within', regarding any public criticism as giving advantage to Sinn Féin's opponents."
Mr Feeney said a lone example of public criticism of Mr Adams's record was an Andersonstown News column in 2008 which highlighted failings of his tenure as MP for West Belfast.
"It was hard-hitting piece from a newspaper that tends to be generally supportive of Sinn Fein but within days a front-page apology was printed," he said.
The university lecturer said he believed there had been internal criticism of Mr Adams's performance during the Republic's general election campaign.
"People in Sinn Féin felt they should have done better in February's election and I think they lay lay blame for the poor result with Gerry Adams, whose performance during the campaign was terrible, particularly on radio," he said.
"He was weak on the economy, while his call for the abolition of the Special Criminal Court prompted outrage, especially as a deadly feud was kicking off between Dublin's criminal gangs."
However, Mr Feeney added that he did not believe there would be a motion of no confidence in the party leader at next year's ard fheis.
"A public call such as McNulty's is completely unprecedented but I believe the matter will end there," he said.
"I suspect he'll be removed from the cumann and that Gerry Adams will dig his heals in further."