Northern Ireland's Attorney General John Larkin has sparked controversy by suggesting there should be an end to looking into crimes related to the Troubles before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Prime Minister David Cameron said such a move would be "rather dangerous" and none of the main political parties have supported the idea.
Martin Geissler reports from Belfast on a day of high emotion for the victims.
Mr Larkin said his proposal was not a formal amnesty but the logical consequences of the Good Friday Agreement, voted for and painstakingly agreed in a bid to end the 30 year conflict that claimed the lives of around 3,500 people, the majority of whom were civilians living in the province.
Mr Larkin also said that access to state records should be increased, and implied that in the absence of legal proceedings many families would be able to find out what happened to their loved ones, in the understanding that those responsible would not be prosecuted.
The proposal would cover all deaths by paramilitaries, the police or the Army.
Victims on both sides of the conflict expressed their dismay at the calls, saying the Attorney General was trying to "airbrush" those murdered out of history. Stephen Gault, whose father was killed in the Enniskillen bomb, said:
His thoughts were echoed by the Democratic Unionist Party, (DUP) who said they had not been consulted on the proposal. Party leader Jeffery Donaldson said:
A number of victims groups have voiced their concerns - saying they would could not simply "draw a line" under the death of their loved ones. Kate Nash, whose brother was killed by British soldiers on Bloody Sunday said:
However the Attorney General pointed to the fact that prosecutions and convictions for murders from the Troubles-era have been few and far between, despite the names of those responsible for the crimes often being widely known within communities. He told the BBC:
Former Police Ombudsman Dame Nuala O'Loan condemned the Attorney General's comments, in a joint statement with barrister Richard Harvey who was involved in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. She said:
However there has been some moderate support - from the Police Federation, who said the proposal is "worthy of consideration", from former NI Secretary Peter Hain who admitted it was "difficult, if not impossible" to bring those guilty of murder to justice, as well as from some of the victims. Mr Hain said:
Jude Whyte from the Victims and Survivors' Forum said:
Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams said there was already a de facto amnesty for members of the security forces, as none have been prosecuted for murdering civilians, and stressed the need for a wider debate on the issue, taking into consideration the views of all victims. He said: