Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said he is proud of his association with the IRA, and would be prepared to give an account of his actions “during the war”.
But he stops short of admitting membership of the organisation.
His comments coincide with publication of a new book Voices From The Grave, in which a former Belfast IRA leader Brendan Hughes links Adams to the execution and disappearing of Jean McConville almost 40 years ago.
Hughes gave interviews to Boston University — not to be published while he was alive.
He died in 2008, and his interviews alongside those of former loyalist leader David Ervine are the first to be released.
In his weekly blog for the Belfast Media Group, Adams writes: “I reject absolutely any accusation that I had any hand or part in the killing and disappearing of Jean McConville”.
He writes he has never sought to distance himself from the IRA.
“I am proud of my association with the IRA,” he writes.
“It was not a perfect organisation and it made many mistakes,” he said. “Its business was war and in the madness that is war the IRA did many things which deeply hurt people.
“I regret that very much and I have worked with others to ameliorate this.”
He addressed the question of the past and a truth process.
“Some of the allegations made against me are very serious indeed and bizarrely by an accuser who is not here to stand over his claims. I feel sorry for him (Brendan Hughes). Every other republican I have spoken to has a totally different view.
“As I have said before on other occasions there are many people who would be prepared to give an account of their actions during the war and who would have the courage to do this while they are still alive.
“A process to do this is needed.”
Adams has rejected the key proposals in the Eames/Bradley report on the past because of the role the Government would have in establishing a Legacy Commission. He says a Truth Commission must be independent.
“It is a matter of public record that I personally would be prepared to give evidence and to encourage others to give evidence to such a genuine truth recovery process,” he said.
The security forces and both governments believe Adams held key positions within the IRA.