The Northern Secretary has announced that there are to be public inquiries into three controversial killings in the North.

Paul Murphy has been outlining the British government's response to a report into allegations of security force collusion in four killings by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory.

Mr Murphy was speaking in the House of Commons about the 1997 killing of Catholic Robert Hamill in Portadown, the murder of solicitor Rosemary Nelson in Lurgan in 1999, and the murder of Loyalist Volunteer Force leader Billy Wright in 1997.

The Northern Secretary said the inquiries, which are to begin as soon as possible, would have the power to compel witnesses to attend but that legal costs and expenses would be capped.

However, in the case of the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, there are criminal proceedings continuing as well as an investigation by Britain's most senior policeman Sir John Stevens.

Mr Murphy said a decision on whether or not there would be an inquiry into Mr Finucane's murder would be announced only at the end of the proceedings.

The Irish Government and the family of Mr Finucane have said they are unhappy with the British government's decision.

Blair hints at commission establishment

Earlier, in a Downing Street news conference, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he knew some people would have difficulty with the Finucane decision, and he hinted at the establishment of a commission through which people in the North could address the grief of the past.

The British government had faced continued criticism for the delay in publishing the four reports, which Judge Cory delivered last October.

Reports on two further controversial killings, given to the Irish Government at the same time, have since been published.