John McDonnell, who was appointed shadow chancellor this week, admitted it was a mistake to say that republicans should be honoured for using armed struggle to force a negotiated settlement.
“It was bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table”.
McDonnell ended by saying that he rejected political violence, but “had to use the language that republicans understood so that we could secure the path to peace”.
“If I gave offence, and I clearly have, then from the bottom of my heart I apologise”.
Appearing on BBC1’s Question Time, Mr McDonnell said that his comments had obviously caused offence and he now apologised “from the bottom of my heart”.
Labour’s new shadow chancellor was confronted by an audience member over the skeletons in his closet in a heated appearance on the BBC’s Question Time.
However, he did call for taxes on the middle classes to be dramatically increased, warning the party will push for a return of the 50 per cent band, which he said was “reasonable”.
Mr McDonnell also hit out at those who attacked him for not singing the national anthem at this week’s ceremony for Battle of Britain veterans.
Nigel Dodds, the leader of the DUP at Westminster who raised McDonnell’s remarks in the Commons on Wednesday, welcomed his apology although he questioned the timing.
He said: “I think my choice of words were wrong.
But how much it’s based on the fact that his political profile has changed, I don’t know, but it certainly was offensive at the time and it is offensive now”.
However, Twitter was divided over Mr McDonnell’s apology. “But we too want to see reform”.
While the party opposes reforms being sought by Mr Cameron that would reduce workers’ rights, the shadow cabinet was in agreement that the answer was “not to leave the European Union but to pledge to reverse those changes with a Labour government elected in 2020″, Mr Corbyn said.
“I went out and argued for the peace process and I made this speech to a group of republicans because one of the problems we had is that if there was a feeling that they were defeated or humiliated – and this was on both sides – they would not stand down”.
“There were risks but it was worth taking because now people are not dying on the streets of Northern Ireland”.
Mr Corbyn was not advocating pulling out of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation , said Mr McDonnell.
“It is very clear to me from conversations I had with some of the most senior people in the Labour party that these comments… did not reflect them, hurt and burned into the souls of many people in Labour constituencies”.
“John McDonnell needs to be honest and not merely to say sorry but to mean it”.
“He has been dragged by entirely justified public outrage to address his obnoxious remarks only once they were brought to general attention”.