Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said that while the armed campaign by the IRA was "justified to take on the British state" in the circumstances of the time, she never wants to go back to that scenario.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sarah McInerney after recent remarks she made about the IRA, Ms McDonald said she is not justifying every action "at all at all" and that she understands the horror and pain visited on people during the conflict.

She said it is her "absolute determination that we learn from that and we never go back".

Ms McDonald said she did not live through it, but for those people living in circumstances where whole sections of society had no prospect of jobs and no votes and there was internment, "I made the simple point that any person faced with that scenario might have become embroiled in it and might have volunteered with the IRA".

She said it is not her job or role in life "to be justifying anything" except her job in Irish life and in building a better future for all of us.

Ms McDonald said that she did not make the comments to cause hurt or distress to victims or to those who were bereaved.

She said that when a conflict commences it becomes "almost self-sustaining and that is why it becomes difficult to stop".

She said it is her strong view that given what happened in the Northern Ireland after partition "sadly, depressingly" led to conflict, but the good news is that we now have a sustainable peace and can look to the future together with confidence.

She said that victims from all communities need to be afforded respect.