The Northern Secretary, Peter Hain, has indicated that the British Government may be prepared to modify some of its controversial legislation relating to 'on the run' suspects.

The plans were criticised by delegations from the SDLP, the Ulster Unionists and the Alliance party when they met Peter Hain and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern in Hillsborough this afternoon.

The legislation could allow dozens of paramilitary fugitives to return to Northern Ireland without serving a jail sentence.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell has said that suspects in the killing of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe who are currently 'at large' will not qualify for amnesties.

Mr McDowell said an Eligibility Board would be established in the future, where persons who believed they were wanted for crimes in the Republic could seek an amnesty under the Good Friday Agreement.