Devastating findings of RUC and British army collusion with loyalist killers in Northern Ireland were delayed to avoid uproar at Westminster, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams claimed tonight.
As pressure mounted for a public inquiry into the assassination of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane, Mr Adams hit out at the date chosen to publish Metropolitan Police Commissioner John Stevens report.
He said: “Imagine in any other place in the world, imagine the uproar there would be in Parliament.
“Here they put out the report (the day) after the Parliamentary recess.”
Mr Adams also hit out at Policing Board vice-chairman Denis Bradley’s claim that a judicial inquiry could be a major let down.
Mr Bradley, who campaigned for the Saville hearing into the Bloody Sunday shootings in 1972, warned Mr Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, of the huge legal wrangling involved.
He said: “I called for a public inquiry into the Bloody Sunday issue and I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that sometimes I’m disappointed.
“I’m disappointed in the amount of legal detail in which it involves itself.
“I get disappointed and saddened for the people who are at the end of this, the families themselves because it has gone on for such a period of time and at great stress.
“But I do not have as much confidence in a public judicial inquiry as some other people.”
Mr Bradley, a former priest from Derry who brokered secret peace talks between the IRA and the British government, was responding to the growing clamour for a public inquiry following Stevens' damning revelations.
Britain’s top policeman found the state intelligence services plotted with Ulster Defence Association gunmen to murder Mr Finucane.
Up to 20 serving and former members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch and the British army’s covert Force Research Unit could face prosecutions based on the scandal his detectives uncovered.
Stevens' four year probe – the third since he first began investigating collusion claims in 1989 – concluded that agents and informants were allowed to operate without effective control and take part in terrorist crimes.
The murders of both Mr Finucane and student Adam Lambert, gunned down on a Belfast building site in 1987, could have been prevented, the report said.
Exactly how many killings in Northern Ireland involved security force collusion is unknown, but Stevens has disclosed that his team examined a total of 26 assassinations.
However, even though Mr Bradley cautioned against plunging into an expensive and lengthy hearing, Mr Adams told him to focus on the rogue officers he claimed were still serving.
The West Belfast MP said: “Senior officers in Special Branch who authorised and directed these killings were taken out of Special Branch back into senior uniformed ranks and are now running the police service.”
“Denis Bradley, rather than pontificate on judicial inquiries should be facing up to the reality that he’s working on a neutered policing board which has not weeded out human rights abusers.”