THE driver of the getaway car for an IRA gang has apologised for the murder of a young civil servant during a bank raid almost three decades ago.
Eamon Ryan (32) was shot dead by the IRA in front of his three-year-old son in an AIB branch in Waterford in 1979.
Two IRA men were given life sentences for his murder. And local IRA man Bill Hayes served nine years for his role as a getaway driver.
Mr Hayes said he wanted to offer his deep sympathy and apologies to Eamon Ryan's family for what they had suffered.
But he still insisted on WLR FM's Deise AM show that the bank robbery was a "political act" rather than a criminal act.
Mr Hayes was responding after the Irish Independent reported how Mr Ryan's family had criticised Sinn Fein for giving him an award for 'outstanding service to the cause of Irish freedom' at their 2011 ard fheis.
However, the story also featured a sister of Eamon Ryan, Mairead Bolger, saying she did not know how Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams could claim she had given a 'positive response' to the IRA's previous apology for killing civilians in 2002.
Mr Adams has asked the Irish Independent to clarify that he had earlier supplied a statement – pointing out that Ms Bolger had stated in an interview in 2002 that she would be happy to accept the IRA apology if it helped in the peace process.
Ms Bolger said last night she had accepted this in good faith, but the decision of Sinn Fein to give a special award to Mr Hayes had changed the situation.
"I feel the sincerity had gone out of it," she said.