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Ireland’s Sinn Fein ‘sorry’ for 1979 IRA murder of UK royal Louis Mountbatten

Comment from current leader Mary Lou McDonald comes a day after funeral of Mountbatten’s nephew Prince Philip

In this April 22, 1955 file photo, British Admiral Earl Louis Mountbatten sits at his desk in full uniform for the first time at the Admirality in London.   (AP Photo, File)
In this April 22, 1955 file photo, British Admiral Earl Louis Mountbatten sits at his desk in full uniform for the first time at the Admirality in London. (AP Photo, File)

LONDON — The leader of Ireland’s Sinn Fein party, once the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), on Sunday apologized for the group’s killing of Prince Philip’s uncle Louis Mountbatten.

The IRA killed Philip’s mentor in 1979 as part of a decades-long conflict waged between Irish republicans and those who wanted Northern Ireland to remain in British hands.

Mary Lou McDonald’s comment came a day after the husband of Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest, following his death at the age of 99 on April 9.

“Of course I am sorry that happened, of course that is heart-breaking,” McDonald told Times Radio.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (in uniform), left, chats with his uncle, (Lord) Earl Mountbatten of Burma, retiring Governor General of India, when the latter arrived June 23, 1948 at Northolt Airport, Middlesex, England. (AP Photo/John Rider-Rider)

“I am happy to reiterate that on the weekend that your queen buried her beloved husband,” she added.

It was the first time the political leader of Irish republicans has apologized for the bombing, with McDonald’s predecessor Gerry Adams saying at the time that Mountbatten was a legitimate target.

Three other people, including Mountbatten’s 14-year-old grandson and a 15-year-old boy, were killed when the IRA blew up Mountbatten’s yacht in the Irish village of Mullaghmore.

Mountbatten was also a mentor to Philip’s son Prince Charles.

McDonald said Sunday that “my job, and I think Prince Charles… would absolutely appreciate this, is to lead from the front now, in these times.

“It’s all of our jobs to make sure that no other child, no other family, irrespective of who they are, face the kind of trauma and heartbreak that was all too common sadly in all sides on this island and beyond,” she said.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, left, Mary Lou McDonald, centre, and Michelle O’Neill carry the coffin of former IRA commander and Sinn Fein deputy leader Martin McGuinness to St Columba’s Church in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Thursday, March 23, 2017. McGuinness helped lead his militant movement to compromise with British Protestants. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Around 3,500 lives were lost in the conflict between unionists and nationalists over the future of Northern Ireland that ended with a landmark peace deal in 1998.

On Saturday, Irish prime minister Micheal Martin warned against a “spiral back” into sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland, as a week of riots raised fears for the future of the fragile deal.

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