Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 16:03 UK

Victims bill changes 'are agreed'

Victims commissioners
Four victims' commissioners were appointed

The first and deputy first ministers have said they have agreed to make changes to the bill to put the Victims and Survivors Commission into law.

However, they still have not publicised what the changes will be, and the measure was withdrawn when it came up for debate in the assembly on Tuesday.

Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness said they are determined the commission is put on a "sound and durable footing".

However, Tuesday's delay was denounced by other parties in the assembly.

The UUP, SDLP and Alliance called it an abuse of both victims and the assembly, a "shambles and "an absolute horlicks".

The bill is necessary because of the decision earlier this year to appoint four victims' commissioners rather than one.

After months of delay over the appointment of a victims commissioner, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness both signed up to a compromise which saw the creation of a new four-strong commission.

But earlier this month their deal ran into trouble when DUP assembly members backed an Alliance proposal which would create a role for a chief commissioner and introduce a system of majority voting on the commission.

Junior Minister Jeffrey Donaldson pulled the bill when it came before the assembly on Tuesday, but insisted his department will take the time it needs to get the measure right.

Ulster Unionsit deputy leader Danny Kennedy interrupted a news conference by the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in the Great Hall, after he claimed the other parties had been briefed about what was happening.

The Alliance party said unless the impasse is resolved it will attempt to bring forward its own bill.

Row brewing over NI victims' bill
08 Apr 08 |  Northern Ireland
Victims' bill on way at Stormont
06 Mar 08 |  Northern Ireland
'Trust' issue over victims' role
27 Jan 08 |  Northern Ireland

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