Fine Gael Party Chairman Charlie Flanagan has called on Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis to respond to claims that he was involved in up to 50 murders during the Troubles.

Mr Flanagan issued this statement following a story in today's Irish Independent.

The story is based on a document contained in British government files from 1982, which have been released by the National Archives in London.

Mr Flanagan said in a statement: “These matters can no longer be treated by Sinn Féin in a routine way.

"We cannot simply forget the past and sweep the issues which strike at the very heart of the democratic process under the carpet to suit Sinn Féin"

Responding to the story, a Sinn Féin party spokesperson said: "This is not the first time such unsubstantiated allegations have been made and Dessie Ellis rejects them as he has repeatedly done.

"Irish Republicans do not attach any value to claims made in secret documents emanating from the British secret services, who were responsible for countless murders in Ireland during the course of the conflict."