Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said it is 'absolutely essential' that the British Government examine the findings of reports into collusion, and that it fully co-operates with all investigations into the serious issues that have arisen.

In a statement issued after the publication of an Oireachtas Committee report, he said its findings regarding collusion were 'deeply troubling and a matter of most serious concern', and painted 'a very disturbing picture'.

The report was carried out by the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights.

It looked into 18 different fatalities in the Republic as a result of terrorist activity and pointed to claims of collusion between loyalist groups and Britain.

It concluded that the State should have done more to assist the victims of atrocities in the 1970s.

The Committee said it was in no doubt that there was collusion between the British security forces and the terrorists behind all of the atrocities that were considered in Justice Henry Barron's fourth report.

It also found that it is fully satisfied that collusion not only occurred, but was widespread.

It also recommended that a full debate on the issue of collusion take place in both the Dail and Seanad.

Taoiseach calls for co-operation

Mr Ahern said the Government had consistently pressed the British government for any cooperation it could provide in relation to all of these incidents.

He said he fully supported the Oireachtas Committee's call for a full debate in the Dáil and Seanad on collusion.

The Taoiseach also pointed out that the report of the McEntee Commission into aspects of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings is expected on 10 December.

Mr Ahern is due to meet with a group representing victims and survivors of the Miami Showband massacre tomorrow.

The Oireachtas Committee looked at the fourth report of Mr Justice Henry Barron into the bombing of Kay's Tavern in Dundalk, Dublin Airport, the Three Star Inn in Castleblayney, an attack on the Miami Showband and other incidents.

Several loyalists as well as members of the security forces suspected of involvement are named in Justice Barron's report.