Gerry Adams has said he raised the cases of the families affected by the Bloody Sunday killings and the Dublin and Monaghan bombings with Prince Charles in a private meeting today.
The Sinn Féin President met the prince along with the North's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at NUI Galway in what he called "a significant symbolic and practical step forward in the process of healing and reconciliation".
It came after the two shook hands at the start of the Prince's four-day visit to Ireland.
Charles agreed to the meeting after a request by the Sinn Féin president who acknowledged that the English royal family had "suffered great loss by the actions of Irish republicans".
Mr Adams said: "Today’s meeting with Prince Charles is a significant symbolic and practical step forward in the process of healing and reconciliation arising from the peace process.
"He and his family were hurt and suffered great loss by the actions of Irish republicans. I am very conscious of this and of the sad loss of the Maxwell family whose son Paul was killed at Mullaghmore and I thank all involved, including Charles, for their forbearance.
"I am also very conscious of the hurt inflicted on my friends and neighbours in my own community of Ballymurphy and Springhill in 1971 and 1972 when sixteen local citizens including three children, a mother of eight, two Catholic priests and ten unarmed men were killed by the Parachute Regiment. The British royal family is inextricably bound up in the military institutions of the British state and the British Army regiments of which Prince Charles is commander in chief were responsible for inflicting hurt on many families on this island, including in Derry in Bloody Sunday.
"Thankfully the conflict is over but these families, like other victims and survivors of the conflict, still seek justice and truth and we raised their cases and that of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings with Charles."
The Sinn Féin President said that all victims, "including those bereaved by the IRA", had a right to justice but also stressed that healing and reconciliation is strengthened.
He said: "I hope today’s meeting will assist this and that the Governments and political parties will build on this opportunity.
"Reconciliation is an enormous challenge for all of us. It is a personal process of dialogue, engagement, and compromise. It’s about healing the past and building a new, better and fairer future based on equality.
"There is now a peaceful way to end partition and the union. All who want a United Ireland have a duty to embrace this and to make friends with our neighbours.
Mr Adams is the most senior republican to meet the prince and it comes after Mr McGuinness shook 2hands with Charles at a state banquet in Windsor Castle last year and met the Queen of England in 2012.
Mr Adams continued: "The participation of myself and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Seanadóir Trevor O Clochtartaigh and other Sinn Féin leaders in a visit by Prince Charles is a measure of our commitment to resolving outstanding legacy issues and to be part of an inclusive healing and reconciliation process and a new political dispensation between the people of this island.
"Our resolve and responsibility is to ensure that no else suffers as a result of conflict; that no other family is bereaved; that the experience of war and of loss and injury is never repeated.
"This means all of us working together. That requires generosity and respect from all and for all.
"We are all living in a time of transition for the people of the island of Ireland and between Ireland and Britain. This week’s engagements are part of the process of building relationships, breaking down barriers to understanding and creating the space – as Seamus Heaney defined it – ‘in which hope can grow.'
"There are many challenges facing the political Institutions established by the Good Friday Agreement and by the popular will of the people of the island of Ireland. These challenges, which are multiple and immediate, must be overcome.
"Leaders have a responsibility to lead. That is what we are trying to do. As we face into the future let all our steps be forward steps."