Former Sinn Fein president praised the late Irish Republican Army leader Kevin McKenna saying the paramilitary group “was right to fight”.

Gerry Adams praised the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on Thursday saying they were right to fight while speaking at the graveside of former IRA leader Kevin McKenna who ran the IRA for ten years from the mid-1980s to the mid-90s.

McKenna was in charge of the IRA when they went on permanent ceasefire.

“The republican people of the north never went to war,” Adams said. “The war came to us.

“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 demonizes patriots like Kevin McKenna any more than we would the generations before them.

“I think the men and women of 1916 were right,” Gerry Adams said. “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 armed aggression of British rule.”

“Kevin was a republican soldier who had the politics to know when to fight, and the political vision to know when to talk.

“This August marks 25 years from the first IRA cessation, was an initiative created by republicans which opened up the potential for the peace process.

“Kevin had the courage to make the big decisions with others during the conflict, and he was also was one of those who had the courage to make the big and difficult decisions during the effort to make peace,” he said.

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Kevin McKenna was buried, following a funeral mass at St. Mary’s Church, Magherarney, near Smithborough, County Monaghan. Originally from Dungannon, County Tyrone. He had lived in Monaghan since the 1970s.

McKenna led the illegal importation of arms from Muammar Gadafy’s Libya in the 1980s. He also led the IRA through the first ceasefire in 1994. He was then replaced.

Among mourners at his funeral on Thursday were prominent Sinn Féin politicians, including party leader Mary Lou McDonald, Northern leader Michelle O’Neill, Members of Parliament Martina Anderson and Michelle Gildernew, and Irish politicians Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and Pearse Doherty.

Read more: Search for teenager murdered by IRA resumes in Monaghan

Former president of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams.Getty