NIO Minister meets victims' groups to discuss controversial legacy plans

Lord Caine said the changes contained in the legislation would "remain difficult for many" Credit: PA

A Northern Ireland Office Minister has met with victims' groups which are critical of a controversial legal move to offer an effective amnesty for Troubles crimes.

Lord Caine said the changes contained in the legislation would "remain difficult for many".

The Tory frontbencher added that he was looking forward to "engaging constructively" with victims and other groups to see how their concerns "might be addressed".

During the meetings, which took place in Belfast on Tuesday and Wednesday, Lord Caine spoke to the Commissioner for Victims and Survivors Ian Jeffers as well as various advocacy groups representing those most directly impacted by Northern Ireland's troubled past.

Last month the Conservative peer said he was "very happy" to meet with victims' groups, politicians and the Irish government to explore ways that the proposed legislation could be improved.

Lord Caine has faced calls from two former Labour Northern Ireland secretaries to rethink the legacy plans, including ditching them all together.

After the meetings, Lord Caine said: "I made a commitment to engage with victims' groups and all the interested parties regarding the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, and I am glad to fulfil that undertaking.

"Legacy is an extremely complex and sensitive issues, and as a Government we acknowledge that, despite the changes contained in the legislation, it will remain difficult for many," he added.

"I look forward to engaging constructively with victims and other groups regarding their concerns, and how these might be addressed as the Bill proceeds through Parliament."

The piece of legislation has already been through the House of Commons and is now on its way to the House of Lords in the autumn.

It proposes a new approach to dealing with legacy, with more focus on truth recovery than criminal justice.

It would provide the promise of immunity from prosecution for perpetrators who agree to provide information to a new truth body and move to end conflict-related civil cases and inquests.