Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams denies blaming RUC officers for their own murders
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has insisted it was not his intention to hurt the families of two RUC officers murdered by the IRA by claiming they had shown a "laissez-faire" attitude to their own security.
The veteran republican received furious criticism from both Belfast and Dublin over his comments in interviews and in the Dail on Wednesday, which included describing RUC officers and IRA terrorists as "doing their duty as they saw it".
These comments were blasted as vile, insulting and nauseating by politicians on both sides of the border.
Last night Mr Adams disputed claims that he was blaming the officers for their own deaths, adding he had merely been repeating a finding from the Smithwick Report.
"It is nonsense to suggest that I was blaming the two RUC officers for their own deaths," he said.
"Everyone knows the IRA was responsible. That was never in question.
"There is also no question that the Smithwick Report records serious concerns about the security arrangements for RUC officers travelling to Dundalk through south Armagh.
"It is a fact that RUC officer Bob Buchanan was crossing the border on average 10 times each month, and on most occasions he travelled in his own car, which was 'readily identifiable.'
"In his report, Justice Smithwick records, and I quote, 'there was a general view that the RUC crossing the border were targets' and 'they (referring to RUC members) were all warned in relation to that.'"
The Sinn Fein leader said his party supported the establishment of the eight-year tribunal and said he co-operated with it. But he said he had concerns that the report found on the balance of probability the IRA had received help from the Garda, when the inquiry found no direct evidence of collusion.
"Sinn Fein supports the recommendations the tribunal makes with regard to changes in policing and developing full all-Ireland co-operation on policing and justice," he added.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that just days after Chief Supt Breen and Supt Buchanan were murdered, Mr Adams stood on a platform with a terrorist from the same unit of the IRA that ambushed them.
An Irish Independent article published on March 27, 1989 quoted in the Smithwick Report details how instead of attending an Easter Rising commemoration in west Belfast, where he was MP, Mr Adams went to Crossmaglen.
Mr Adams praised the local IRA there, saying that south Armagh was often described as "bandit country", but the only bandits and terrorists there were "in the uniforms of the Crown forces".
He was joined on the platform by a masked man who read a statement after Mr Adams spoke.
It referred to the murders of the RUC officers. The IRA man then alleged that one of the dead police officers was responsible for the murders of eight IRA men at Loughgall and for an RUC baton charge on mourners at the funeral of IRA man Brendan Burns in Crossmaglen in 1988.