The Sunday World newspaper has apologised in the High Court to former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams for an article published six years ago.

The article alleged Mr Adams had a secret meeting with a former member of the Provisional IRA shortly before the man was murdered in August 2015.

The newspaper said it accepted Mr Adams's position that no such meeting took place.

In the apology, read to the court by Senior Counsel Paul O'Higgins, the newspaper said the article published on 13 September 2015 reported that Mr Adams had a secret meeting with former Provisional IRA member Kevin McGuigan over concerns for his safety, shortly before Mr McGuigan was murdered in Belfast in August that year.

The newspaper said it had reported the story "in good faith" but now accepted Mr Adams's position that no such meeting or conversation ever took place.

The case was struck out with no order made as to costs, meaning that an agreement has been reached between the parties about costs.

Kevin McGuigan, 53, was shot dead in August 2015 in the Comber Court area of the Short Strand, while walking with his wife towards his house.

The murder was described as "ruthless and premeditated" by the PSNI at the time.

The PSNI also claimed that a definite line of inquiry being followed in the investigation was that members of the Provisional IRA were involved in the killing.

Gerry Adams issued a statement shortly afterwards condemning the killing and denying that the IRA was involved.

The killing and the allegations of IRA involvement sparked a political crisis at Stormont.

Speaking outside the court in Croke Park, Mr Adams said he was satisfied the Sunday World had apologised for what he said was a deeply offensive and false article.

He said for a long time some elements of the media had reported or published or made false and vicious claims about him and other republicans.

Mr Adams said he was very conscious that at the centre of this case, a man, Kevin McGuigan had been murdered. And that another man, Gerard Davison, had been murdered in May 2015.

He said the case had always been about asserting his own integrity and he said he had done that.

He said he intended to donate any money due to him as part of the settlement to good causes such as the Irish language centre and the Bobby Sands Trust.

Mr Adams said it had taken six years to get to this point and the most important element for him was his reputation.

He said the article had been published at a fraught time in the North. Unionists had withdrawn from the assembly and he said there was an opportunistic attempt by political opponents to score points off Sinn Féin. It had taken another month to get the institutions back up and running again.

Mr Adams' solicitor Paul Tweed said the front-page story was sensationalised and made totally false and spurious claims.

He said the newspaper had failed to come up with any evidence or basis for its "unfounded story" and had finally belatedly acknowledged what they had done by retracting the allegations and apologising to Gerry Adams.

In a statement, the publishers of the Sunday World, Mediahuis Ireland, said the story predated the company's take-over of Independent News and Media Group.

It said the article was published at a time of enormous political controversy surrounding the circumstances of Mr McGuigan's murder. It said that was a crime that remained unsolved to this day.

The newspaper said the author, Hugh Jordan, was a journalist of integrity and it was a source of deep regret to the paper that an article written and published in good faith had brought them to this point.

It said it would continue to report on issues affecting lives of ordinary people north and south without fear or favour.