His announcement signals the end of a 34-year political career.
Mr Adams has held the role of party president since 1983.
Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, a pivotal figure in the political life of Ireland for nearly 50 years, said on Saturday he will step down as party leader and complete a generational shift in the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). I have been privileged to be part of an wonderful leadership.
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Stating his "complete confidence in the next generation of leaders" he said he supported holding a special conference in 2018 to elect the party's new president.
In his speech Adams said: "I have always seen myself as a team player and a team builder".
He continued: "I want to thank everyone who has welcomed me into their homes and communities and who have made me part of countless campaigns, countless elections and countless negotiations".
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Gerry Adams has announced his intention to stand down as Sinn Féin president in 2018.
Sinn Féin expect around three thousand delegates to attend day two of their annual conference where much of the focus will be on the future of it's leader Gerry Adams.
Analysts say a change of leader could help open the way to Sinn Fein entering government in Dublin for the first time. He now represents the Louth constituency in the Irish Republic and sits in the Dail.
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According to Sky's Ireland Correspondent David Blevins, the frontrunner to succeed Mr Adams is his serving deputy Mary Lou McDonald, who is 48 and a member of the Irish Parliament.