Page last updated at 13:24 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 14:24 UK

Victims' bill clears final hurdle

In January, details of NI's victims' commissioners were revealed
In January, details of NI's victims' commissioners were revealed

Controversial victims' legislation has cleared the final hurdle at Stormont.

The Victims and Survivors' Bill was backed by MLAs following a debate on Tuesday.

Sinn Fein and the DUP praised the draft law creating a four-member panel as a major boost for those affected by the Troubles.

The bill gives the first and deputy first ministers power to appoint a chief commissioner. It had been withdrawn on two previous occasions.

A compromise backed by the DUP and Sinn Fein, followed a series of delays to the Victims' Bill which is required to give the new commission legal authority.

Alliance Party calls for a chief commissioner to be appointed were voted down on Tuesday.

MLAs also backed a proposal which will only allow the commission to employ someone with a criminal conviction if the first and deputy first ministers give their prior approval.

In January, details of Northern Ireland's victims' commissioners were revealed.

They include broadcaster Mike Nesbitt and ex-interim victims' commissioner Bertha McDougall whose RUC Reservist husband was murdered by the republican INLA.

The others are Patricia MacBride, whose brother was killed by the SAS and whose father died 17 months after being shot by loyalists, and Brendan McAllister of Mediation NI.

All four posts are full-time and receive the full advertised salary of 65,000.

The post is intended to promote the interests of victims of the Troubles.

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