Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has said that while the armed campaign by the IRA was “justified to take on the British state” she would not support every action that it took.
Ms McDonald said she did not live through the worst of the conflict and said it is her “absolute determination that we learn from that and we never go back”.
Ms McDonald was speaking on the RTE radio programme Today With Sarah McInerney show after remarks she made in a Sunday newspaper about the IRA.
When asked if it was justified for the IRA to kill people, she said: “It was justified, I believe, to take on the British state.
“Here’s the reality; when a conflict commences – it becomes almost self-sustaining.
“That is why it almost becomes difficult to stop.
“It is not my job or role in life to be out justifying anything except to say to justify my own analysis and position in terms of Irish life and of building a better future for all of us.
“I am not justifying every action at all, at all.
“I absolutely understand the horror and pain that was visited on people and it is my absolute determination that we can learn from that and never go back.”
Ms McDonald said, as she lived in Dublin, she was not it a position to “take up armed conflict”.
“I am in the very lucky position that I have never had to make that decision… I’ll give you a straightforward answer, at no stage have I picked up a gun or hurt another human being.”
She said she could understand why those living in Northern Ireland at the time would have joined the IRA.
“In circumstances where a whole section of society had no prospects of jobs, houses, votes.. in circumstances where you had internment, plastic bullets – all of that.
“I did not live that – it was not my reality – I wasn’t faced with it.”
“I made the simple point that any person faced with that scenario might have become embroiled in it and might have volunteered with the IRA.
“That’s the point that I made and it is not a point made to cause distress and hurt to people.”