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Last Updated: Friday, 25 January 2008, 12:06 GMT
Four now in line for victims role
Bertha McDougall and Mike Nesbitt
Bertha McDougall and Mike Nesbitt are to be appointed
Four new victims commissioners are set to be appointed in a surprise move by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.

The names are understood to include former UTV presenter Mike Nesbitt and former interim victims commissioner Bertha McDougall.

It follows a lengthy process, including a job readvertisement last autumn.

It is not yet known if each will get the same salary in the region of 65,000, as was advertised last year.

It is believed Brendan McAllister of Mediation Northern Ireland and Patricia MacBride will also be appointed.

burning car
The post is aimed at promoting the interests of Troubles victims
The post is intended to promote the interests of victims of the Troubles.

After the readvertisement, First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness met candidates before Christmas where they were given 10-minute presentations.

The names are expected to be confirmed in a statement to the assembly next week.

A statement from the three DUP members of the Committee for the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister welcomed the move.

"We have a commission on parades, on human rights and on equality - why should the innocent victims of the conflict here be treated any differently?" it said.

The issue of appointing a victims commissioner has proved to be a difficult one.

The interim appointment in October 2005 of Mrs McDougall - the widow of a murdered RUC reservist - was challenged by west Belfast woman Brenda Downes, whose husband was killed by an RUC plastic bullet in 1984.

A court ruled that her appointment was "improper and politically motivated".

Martina Purdy profiles the four commissioners

Ministers criticised over victims
08 Oct 07 |  Northern Ireland
Pressure to explain victims delay
27 Sep 07 |  Northern Ireland
What defines a victim in NI?
26 Oct 05 |  Northern Ireland

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