Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has rejected as 'nonsense' claims made by the Irish prime minister Enda Kenny that he was a senior member of the IRA's army council.

According to the Irish Examiner, Kenny made the claim about the Sinn Fein leader on Saturday night at a party dinner in Dublin.

Kenny told the press he had seen documented evidence which left him in no doubt that Adams was not only a member of the IRA but had been a senior figure on its army council.

The statement, which is an unprecedented claim about an opposition member in the current Irish parliament, was made in the light of claims made last week by a former IRA bomber.

Dolours Price said in a newspaper interview last week that Adams had been involved in IRA activity. She also said he sanctioned the 1973 Old Bailey bombing, for which she was later jailed.

Kenny told the press on Saturday  that Adams's demands for a truth commission in the North could not be met unless he himself was honest about his own past.

'From all the evidence I have read and from all the evidence I have heard, I believe Gerry Adams was a member of the IRA and I was led to believe he was also a member of the army council,' Kenny said.

In contrast, Kenny said Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness had been 'forthright enough' to admit his own past in the IRA.

Responding to Kenny's remarks Adams said: 'It is now becoming tedious that every time this Government feels under pressure it raises this issue of me being in the IRA. It is nonsense and the Taoiseach knows this.'

The Sinn Fein leader said the Prime minister's comments were an attempt to deflect attention from the failings of his Fine Gael Government. 'This is another desperate and transparent attempt to deflect attention from the failures of Kenny’s Government,' he said.

It is not the first time that senior Irish politicians have alleged Adams was in the IRA. However, Adams has previously said that turning to the courts to defend his name would be 'financially beyond' his means.