Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is insisting that he is still opposed to private health care, despite flying to the US for treatment in an exclusive hospital.
The Louth TD underwent a "surgical procedure" for a non-cancerous prostate problem in New York last summer. Sinn Fein said the procedure was a success.
Mr Adams insisted that he still personally supported the party's policy of opposing the "privatisation of health care services" even though he had availed of private health care himself. And he denied that his actions had been hypocritical.
"It's a private decision by me. That's my business. And those who attack me on that are engaging absolutely in hypocrisy and opportunism," he said.
Mr Adams had been criticised by politicians, on both sides of the border, with an SDLP assembly member, as well as Fine Gael and Fianna Fail politicians, saying his actions are at odds with Sinn Fein policy.
His party's health care policy document, published before the general election, contains stinging criticism of the "two-tier" health service in Ireland where "wealth can buy better care in the private health sector".
Mr Adams said it was not always possible for citizens to get the type of treatment they required in Ireland. And he went on to say he was not making any apologies for what he had done.
"I'm very, very thankful that I was able to get the treatment, my family are thankful that I was able to get the treatment and you will be glad to hear that I am well on the way to recovery," he said.
Mr Adams was speaking in the Teachers' Club in Dublin to outline his party's strategy for the return of the Dail. He said the party would be preparing its own bill to repeal the property tax, saying it was a "tax too far" on citizens.
But he rejected the possibility of Sinn Fein repealing the property tax in Northern Ireland where it is in government.
"There is no property tax element in the North. There's a system of local rating. That's not the same type of creature at all. People aren't paying tolls, people aren't paying to have their bins emptied, people are getting free school books for their children," he said.