UK government changes to its proposed controversial legacy legislation have been dismissed by campaigners.

It announced amendments last night to the bill which is moving towards completion in the House of Lords.

Northern Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said they had been brought forward after listening to those opposed to the bill.

But Amnesty UK said the British government was treating victims with "contempt" and the changes would do nothing to "address the fundamental flaws".

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill would effectively shut down all legal avenues of redress for victims including civil and criminal cases as well as Troubles inquests.

That would be replaced with an Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery.

It would offer immunity to former paramilitaries in return for an account of the activities they had been involved in.

Reports would be offered to the families of victims around incidents involving their loved ones.

It has been roundly opposed by all sides including politicians of all parties in Northern Ireland and the Irish Government.

A previous approach, agreed by Northern Ireland parties and the two governments, would have left open the prospect of criminal cases in Troubles cases where new evidence emerged.

A victims' group, Relatives for Justice, said the amendments would make an unacceptable bill even worse.

It said it would significantly impact families hoping for inquests.

Under the original proposals any inquest which had reached a "substantive stage" by May this year would have been allowed to continue to a conclusion.

These amendments, if passed, would mean any inquest where a verdict is not due by May 2024 will be shut down.

These kinds of legacy Troubles inquests have traditionally taken a long time to complete.

The bill is expected to be passed later this summer.

Northern Ireland minister, Jonathan Caine said he engaged with all stakeholders to get their viewpoints before amending the UK's controversial proposed Troubles Legacy bill.

"I would hope when people get to look at the amendments that I’m bringing forward in some detail they’ll see a significant package," Mr Caine said.

"But of course, I understand that many people find this legislation very difficult and very challenging."

"The reality of the situation in which we find ourselves in respect of criminal prosecutions, for example, is vanishingly rare," Mr Caine said.

"The bill as drafted currently, made it clear that inquests that reached a substantive first hearing would continue."

Mr Caine told RTÉ’s News at One, that the cut-off point for those inquests that had not reached a substantive first hearing was 1 May this year.

"What we’re doing with this legislation is ensuring there is an extra year for inquests to run.

"Where an inquest has not reached a conclusion or finished its hearings by 1 May next year, they will transfer into the new body," he added.

"The new commission, the ICRIR, will have access to all state records including those held by the PSNI, the armed forces and the intelligence agencies," Mr Caine said.

"The other thing to add about the powers of the new body is that the Commissioner of Reinvestigations will have full policing powers so he or she can initiate full criminal investigations," Mr Caine added.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has already that said if his party wins the next UK general election, he will repeal the legislation.

Yesterday, the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg adopted an interim resolution which "strongly reiterated" its calls upon the UK to reconsider the conditional immunity scheme in light of concerns expressed around its compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin welcomed the move.

"It is a matter of regret to my government that the Legacy Bill continues its legislative progress without the support of political parties in Northern Ireland, and without support from families, victims’ groups or civil society," he said.

"I believe that, by providing for amnesties for crimes amounting to gross human rights violations, the Bill, if enacted, would undermine rather than assist reconciliation."

Additional reporting PA