A consultative group set up to find ways of dealing with Northern Ireland's troubled past has said that innocent people were allowed to die because of illegal activity by the British state.

The retired Church of Ireland primate Lord Robin Eames and former Policing Board chairman Denis Bradley are to produce a report later this year on how those affected by the violence of the past 30 years might be able to move on.

Outlining their initial views, they said everyone would have to look beyond their own beliefs and perceptions if there is to be a future where all traditions are respected and accommodated.

The group says it is not just the actions of republican and loyalist paramilitaries that people have to come to grips with, but those of the British state as well.

‘Elements of the [British] state on some occasions acted outside the law, and through handling of intelligence it could even be said that innocent people were allowed to die,’ they said. ‘We cannot ignore that in fact the state sometimes acted illegally.’

Another key challenge identified by the group was how far the justice system could deliver for victims and survivors, and it said many may have to face up to the fact that no one would ever be brought to book for their actions.

The group received 250 written submissions and over 2,000 co-ordinated letters and met over 100 groups during the consultation process.

The group will publish its final report later this year.

Following this morning's speech, Justice for the Forgotten welcomed the inclusion of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in Lord Eames and Mr Bradley's address.

The group representing relatives and victims of the atrocities said it looked forward to being included in the group's final recommendations.