Mary McArdle has spoken publicly for the first time about the murder of Mary Travers.
In an interview with the Andersonstown News, she said: "I want to state clearly that the killing of Mary Travers was a tragic mistake and I regret that it happened.
"If I were to begin to describe the specific context of conflict, I would be accused of trying to justify her death, and I have no wish to do that."
Mary McArdle was part of an IRA gang who ambushed magistrate Tom Travers and his family as they left Mass.
She served 14 years in prison and was a fellow inmate alongside Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin.
Ms McArdle said she did not believe anything she said could ease the family's grief.
"Since my release from prison I have been active in Sinn Fein and have played, I hope, a constructive and positive role in winning and maintaining support for the peace process within the nationalist and republican community, not least among the community where I live and which has suffered enormously from the past conflict - and that is what I intend to continue to do."
Ms Ni Chuilin defended the appointment, adding that Northern Ireland was now in "a post-conflict environment".
"Myself and my special adviser are both former political prisoners. The Good Friday Agreement recognised the role of political prisoners. I understand that, particularly where families have been bereaved, there are huge issues around grief and I respect that."