By Taz Ali, PA
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she is “sorry” that the IRA assassinated Britain's Lord Mountbatten.
Ms McDonald described the murder of Lord Louis Mountbatten – who died along with two members of his family and a Co Fermanagh teenager – on a fishing boat in Co Sligo in 1979 as “heartbreaking”.
Her comments came a day after a funeral service was held for Prince Philip, Mountbatten’s nephew, at Windsor Castle in England.
When asked on Times Radio whether she would apologise to Prince Charles over the assassination – which her predecessor Gerry Adams reportedly refused to do – she said: “The army and the armed forces associated with Prince Charles carried out many, many violent actions on our island.
“And I can say of course I am sorry that that happened, of course that is heartbreaking.
“And my job, and I think Prince Charles and others would absolutely appreciate this, is to lead from the front now in these times.
“And I believe it is all of our jobs to ensure that no other child, no other family, irrespective of who they are, face the kind of trauma and heartbreak that was all too common on all sides – let me emphasise on all sides – of this island and beyond.
“I have an absolute commitment and responsibility to make sure that no family faces that again. And I am happy to reiterate that on the weekend that your queen buried her beloved husband.”
She relayed how Charles had written her a “lovely letter” last year after she fell ill with Covid-19, adding: “I thought that was most decent and kind of him.
“Whereas we are not obviously monarchists, we’re republicans, that’s our political view, we have the utmost respect for that family and for who they are and what they represent to British people and indeed to unionists and loyalists here.
“And interestingly, the conversations that you have when people like us meet people like the royal family are not conversations around recriminations or there’s never a demand for apologies.”
The bomb planted on the fishing boat by republican paramilitaries also killed Mountbatten's 14-year-old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, the boy’s 83-year-old grandmother Lady Doreen Brabourne, and 15-year-old Paul Maxwell, a boat boy from Killynur, Enniskillen.
Ms McDonald’s predecessor, Gerry Adams, did not apologise to Prince Charles during a meeting in 2015, after which he said he stood over his comments that the royal “knew the danger” he was in by coming to Ireland.