Sinn Féin chief Mary Lou McDonald has apologized for Lord Mountbatten’s assassination by the IRA over 40 years ago.
Comments, the next day the funeral of Mountbatten’s nephew, Prince Philip, mark a distinct change in tone from that of his predecessor Gerry Adams, who said the member of the royal family “knew the danger” he was putting himself in by coming to Ireland.
Speaking to Times Radio, the broadcasting arm of the Times and Sunday Times newspapers, McDonald said the death on vacation of the 79-year-old peer, two children and a family friend off the coast of County of Sligo in 1979 was “heartbreaking”. .
When asked if she would apologize to Prince Charles, grand-nephew of Mountbatten and particularly close to him, she replied: “The army and the armed forces associated with Prince Charles have carried out many violent actions. on our island. And I can say, of course, that I’m sorry that happened.
The IRA, a paramilitary organization closely linked to Sinn Féin for much of Northern Ireland’s troubled history, claimed responsibility for the bomb on a ship that killed the WWII commander, his 14 year old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, a local resident. the crew Paul Maxwell, 15, and Lady Brabourne, 83. Several other people on board were also injured.
Last year the Police Chiefs of Northern Ireland and the Republic said Sinn Féin was still guarded by the IRA army council, despite Republican claims that it dissolved in 2005. McDonald said in 2015 that the IRA “does not exist” and that she was “not a spokesperson for the IRA”.
On Sunday, she described Mountbatten’s death as “heartbreaking”, adding: “I have the absolute responsibility to make sure that no family is faced with this again and I am happy to repeat that on the weekend when your queen has buried her beloved husband. ”
In a meeting with Prince Charles in 2015, former Sinn Féin chief Adams did not apologize for the IRA bombing, instead telling the press he maintained previous comments that Mountbatten “Knew the danger” to come to Ireland. “I’m not one of those people who engage in revisionism,” Adams said at the time. “Fortunately, the war is over.”
A spokeswoman for Sinn Féin did not immediately respond to a question about the significance of the change in tone, which comes amid a wave of sectarian unrest in Northern Ireland in the context of Brexit and a possible vote on the separation of the region from the United Kingdom.
MacDonald said the Northern Ireland protocol, which outraged trade unionists by establishing a customs border between the region and Britain and piled up significant red tape for businesses in both communities, was “necessary” but “inelegant”.
Unionist protests against the protocol turned into violent clashes in the two communities for eight days after Good Friday. A week of calm followed when protests were suspended following the death of Prince Philip. They are expected to resume on Monday, in what some fear could lead to further unrest.