Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald defends Gerry Adams over his comments on Jean McConville murder to American media outlet CBS
The McConville family have expressed their hurt over the remarks, which Mr Adams made during an interview with US broadcaster CBS.
Speaking today, his deputy leader Ms McDonald said she did not believe Mr Adams was being "flippant" and that her party has never intended to compound the hurt of any family affected by the Troubles.
Read more here: Jean family's anger at Adams' 'that's war' slur
But asked whether she agrees with Mr Adams's remarks that the mother-of-ten's murder was an act of war, Ms McDonald said "awful things did happen" over the course of the conflict.
"The truth is, in the course of the conflict, awful things did happen. They happened on all sides," Ms McDonald said.
"And terrible hurts were inflicted and we are at a stage now where I hope where we begin the process of recognising those hurts and addressing them and, where we can, bringing some level of closure and comfort and even reconciliation to everybody concerned," she added.
Ms McConville was abducted from her home in front of her children and murdered by the IRA in 1972.
Mr Adams, who has consistently denied involvement in the crime, was questioned by the PSNI last year before being released without charge.
During his interview with CBS, Mr Adams was asked about his arrest, as well as the Boston College tapes, in which former IRA members claim the Louth TD was involved in Ms McConville's murder.
Asked by interviewer Scott Pelley "how do you orphan 10 children, what kind of depravity is that", Mr Adams responded: "That's what happens in wars Scott. That's not to minimise it. That's what American soldiers do, Irish republicans soldiers do, you know. That's what happens in every single conflict."
In a statement released on Saturday, Ms McConville's son Michael criticised Mr Adams's comments.
"The murder of our mother did not just happen. It was ordered and planned. No one should ever forget that or be allowed to pretend otherwise. Gerry Adams says these things happen in wars in which case this is a war crime and those responsible should be brought to justice," the statement said.
Asked about the interview at an Easter Rising commemoration event in Dublin today, Ms McDonald defended the remarks.
"The last thing any of us would like to do is compound the hurt of the McConville family or any family. What happened to Jean McConville was utterly wrong and indeed the other families of the Disappeared," she said.
"What I want to see and what republicans want to see is the remains returned to the families so at least they have the comfort of that. The intention is in no way to cause hurt or any level of distress. I think, in fairness, we've said that consistently and that's my sincerely held position and view," she added.