Outgoing Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has insisted he does not care how history will judge him.

However, the Louth TD has admitted that he regrets it took until 1994 for the first IRA ceasefire to take place.

As he prepares to hand over the reins to Mary-Lou McDonald, the 69-year-old barman turned republican leader said he accepts that some people will detest him and others will admire him for his actions throughout his political life.

He said he does not care what he is remembered for because he believes he did the best he could.

"I don't mind. If I thought about it very deeply those people who detest me will continue to detest me. Those people who admire me will continue to admire me.

"All I did in the course of the job, I was doing my best. And I think that is all we can do. I am satisfied I have done my best," he said.

Mr Adams, who has always denied being a member of the IRA, has been both hailed as a peacemaker and vilified as a terrorist.

He first began dialogue with Father Alec Reid, who was considered pivotal to the peace process, as far back as 1977.

But it was not until 1988 that Fr Reid brokered Mr Adams' dialogue with the then SDLP leader John Hume, which led to the IRA ceasefire six years later.

Mr Adams said he regretted the deaths and injuries caused during those years.

"I regret that it took so long and that those who would condemn, denounce, use moral denunciations as a subterfuge for just not talking, therefore it took almost from 1976/77 to 1994 before there was the first cessation.

"That's an awful long time and a lot of people were killed or injured and traumatised in between."

Reflecting upon all those killed and injured during the Troubles, he said it was something he regrets.

"I regret the fact anyone was killed, particularly those who were killed by the IRA. Of course I do.

"All victims deserve the truth and justice and their families deserve that.

"People will judge me whatever way they want to judge me and I accept that. I have been very moved by the generosity and grace of some people who were really hurt in the conflict.

"That has been quite inspirational, to meet people who were prepared to set aside that hurt for the common good.

"What we all have to do is make sure it never happens again," he said.

When asked how he would judge himself, Mr Adams replied: "To tell you the truth, I haven't thought of that.

"I am a very good dancer, I sing extremely well, I am a half-decent cook, I have written a wee bit, I like walking, but I'm comfortable in my own skin and I am surrounded by some wonderful people, a great family, my wife, people who love me.

"The most important thing in life is friendship and the most important thing you can give to anyone is time. So I am blessed with friends and all this time," he said.

Mr Adams added that he felt "blessed" to still be alive, having survived a number of assassination attempts.

He was once shot in the neck, shoulder and arm as a number of gunmen opened fire on his car in 1984. He also had a hand grenade thrown into his home.

"I have escaped a number of attempts to kill me and so on. I have been blessed by some very incompetent assassins, so there are lots of good things in life," he said.

Tomorrow, Mr Adams will pass on the Sinn Féin presidency after more than 34 years in the post.

Around 2,000 delegates are expected to gather at the RDS for the ratification of Ms McDonald as his successor.

The party's Northern Ireland leader, Michelle O'Neill, will be proposed for the vice-president position.