Outgoing Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said he regrets the fact that people were killed by the IRA during the Troubles but does not care how history judges him.
His candid remarks come as his successor, Mary Lou McDonald, is today officially declared Sinn Féin president, amid a fresh storm of controversies around the party.
Sinn Féin was last night still resolutely refusing to host the traditional question and answer session with Ms McDonald and attending media at the special ard fheis meeting in Dublin.
Among the issues of public interest are fresh accusations of bullying in the party; why MLA Gerry Kelly used bolt-cutters to remove a car clamp; the North, and any new direction Sinn Féin might take.
Despite numerous requests from journalists, the party insisted last night neither Ms McDonald or leadership members would hold a press conference at the RDS event in Dublin.
Mr Adams will pass on the presidency after more than 34 years in the post. Around 2,000 delegates are expected to gather for the ratification of the Dublin Central TD Ms McDonald as his successor.
The party’s leader in the North, Michelle O’Neill, will be proposed for the vice-president’s position.
In an interview with the Press Association, Mr Adams said he did not care how history judged him.
The barman-turned- republican leader, 69, said he accepts some people will detest him: “I don’t mind. If I thought about it very deeply those people who detest me will continue to detest me. Those people who admire me will continue to admire me.”
Mr Adams has always strenuously denied being a member of the IRA or being the Belfast commander at one stage, despite numerous reports and claims to the contrary by republicans.
Reflecting on the casualties of the Troubles, he said: “I regret the fact anyone was killed, particularly those who were killed by the IRA. Of course, I do.
“All victims deserve the truth and justice and their families deserve that.”
Meanwhile, during her speech at the RDS, Ms McDonald is expected to emphasise that Sinn Féin will campaign enthusiastically for repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution to liberalise access to abortion In Ireland.
She will also lay out intentions to grow the party, and for a united Ireland.
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