FORMER Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said the IRA was right to fight against the "armed aggression of British rule" in Northern Ireland.
The Louth TD, 70, made the comments as he delivered a graveside oration at the funeral of former IRA chief of staff Kevin McKenna on Thursday.
McKenna, who died on Tuesday aged 74, joined the Provisional Irish Republican Army in the 1970s and led the republican paramilitary group from 1983 until the 1997 ceasefire.
Speaking to mourners at yesterday's funeral in Co. Monaghan, Adams paid tribute to McKenna as "a decent man doing his best in very difficult times".
He went on to say that republican people in the North "never went to war – the war came to us", adding: "I'm mindful of those who have been hurt, and there has been hurt on all sides and healing and reconciliation is needed, but the war is over.
"The future is being written now, and as we help to write that future we will not let the past be written in a way which demonises patriots like Kevin McKenna any more than we would the generations before them.
"I think the men and women of 1916 were right. I think the H-Block hunger strikers were right. I think Kevin McKenna was right.
"I think the IRA was right – not in everything that it did – but it was right to fight when faced with the the armed aggression of British rule."
Among the mourners at Thursday's service were several prominent Sinn Féin politicians, including party leader Mary Lou McDonald, Northern leader Michelle O'Neill and MPs Martina Anderson and Michelle Gildernew.
Adams, who has served as a TD for Louth since 2011, stood down as Sinn Féin leader last year after 35 years.