The British government has said it plans to press ahead with its controversial legacy legislation despite the rejection of a key component by peers.
The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) responded to the House of Lords' support for the removal of the bill's immunity provision by insisting it would "deliver better outcomes for those most affected by the Troubles.".
The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill is opposed by victims' groups, the Irish government and every major political party in Ireland. Opposition leader Keir Starmer has pledged to repeal the legislation if Labour wins the next election.
Peers voted on Monday by 197 votes to 185 to remove the immunity provision. Former Labour secretary of state Lord David Murphy said the bill was was "almost universally condemned".
The NIO statement said the British government "remains determined" to persevere with the legislation, describing it as the "best way" to address the legacy of the Troubles.
"We acknowledge that this bill contains uncomfortable and finely balanced choices, but we have to be realistic about what we can best deliver for families over a quarter-of-a-century after the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement," it said.
"The government will continue to engage on the bill as it progresses through its final parliamentary stages."
The House of Lords adopted a number government amendments, including extending the date by which inquests needed to have concluded to May 1 2024.
The bill will return to the House of Commons where further changes are anticipated, including the potential reinstatement of the immunity provision.
Gráinne Teggart of Amnesty International said the British government's claims that the bill would deliver for victims was "galling".
"We, and many others, have been clear this legislation prioritises perpetrators at the expense of victims – it is, and remains, a gross betrayal of their rights," she said.
"The opposition to the bill seen in House of Lords follows wider societal opposition and extensive international concern.
"The UK government is alone in wanting this bill and the implications of it passing into law are significant."
An Amnesty International commissioned poll published earlier this week showed a majority of people across the UK oppose the controversial bill.