Mary Lou McDonald has said that crimes committed during political conflicts should be treated differently to gangland crime in Dublin.
The leader of Sinn Féin was speaking On The Record with Gavan Reilly about the party's links to criminality following the sentencing of former councillor Jonathan Dowdall.
Dowdall has recently been put behind bars for facilitating one of the most high-profile gangland murders in the country at the Regency Hotel in Dublin.
McDonald said she became aware of allegations against Jonathan Dowdall in 2016, almost a year after he had left the party.
"The first I knew of any of this was when he had been arrested for a different offense", said McDonald.
"I was very very shocked by that."
"I have to say, prior to that, he had been a person running a very successful business with very high-level contracts, employing a lot of people."
"Certainly there would've been no indication for me or for anybody else that he would be involved in this type of activity."
Mr Dowdall made a €1000 donation to the Dublin Central constituency in 2016.
Ms McDonald asserts that it was a "perfectly legal, legitimate contribution" at the time.
"It was reported as per the rules and regulations and [the Standards in Public Office Commission]."
"It would've been spent on legitimate political expenses and probably election expenses."
"Had I had even an inkling that he was involved in any form of criminality, much less what he now stands accused of, he wouldn't have been within a roar of me or within Sinn Féin."
"It's great to have the value of hindsight, but I simply had no awareness", Ms McDonald said.
"As somebody who represents the north inner-city of Dublin and who has seen first hand the corrosive damage that 'gangland' has caused to communities, there is absolutely no comparison."
She stressed that she is acutely aware of the "daily scourge" of gangland crime.
According to her, there is "no comparison" between "things that happened in the course of a very long political conflict" and "ongoing challenge" of the "gangland crime epidemic".
Listen back to the full conversation here.
Main image shows Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald speaking to media in July 2022. Picture by: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie