Hyde Park bomb accused John Downey has called off a welcome home party in his native Donegal on Saturday night.
There was widespread condemnation of the planned celebration at The Lagoon bar/restaurant in Gweedore, with some unionist representatives branding it “ghoulish”.
In a statement issued on Saturday morning through Sinn Fein, Downey, who has a previous conviction for IRA membership, said he had decided to cancel the event to avoid insulting anyone.
He said: “Some elements of the media are portraying the event planned for tonight as triumphalist and insulting to bereaved families. That was never what it was about.
“On the contrary, since long before the Good Friday Agreement I have been working to promote peace and reconciliation between our people on this island, meeting with members of loyalism and unionism in trying to put the past behind us and move into the future in peace together.
“My goal is, as it always was, a united Ireland where everybody is equal. I would never try to insult or add to the hurt of anybody who is bereaved as I am only too aware of their pain as there are many bereaved families also in the republican community.”
Mr Downey added: “I refuse to allow what was planned as a simple get together of family, friends and neighbours who supported me throughout my wrongful arrest and imprisonment in England to welcome me home and allow me to thank them, to be misrepresented and turned into a media circus.
“For this reason I have decided to cancel the homecoming get together planned for the Lagoon tonight and I know that my friends and neighbours will understand.”