Sinn Fein Gerry Adams has rejected charges that his party supports crime but stopped short of condemning those who break the law in pursuit of legitimate political objectives.
Mr. Adams, who heads the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, made the declaration Saturday at Sinn Fein's annual conference in Dublin.
Sinn Fein has been under intense scrutiny over its alleged criminal activities, including its members' possible role in a fatal January stabbing. Mr. Adams called on the perpetrators to come forward and admit their actions in court. The group has suspended seven members implicated in the killing.
Sinn Fein has also been accused of a role in a December multi-million dollar bank robbery. Officials deny involvement in the heist.
Talks to revive a power-sharing government in Belfast stalled in December. One of the sticking points has been the disarmament of the IRA.
Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP, Reuters.