Loyalist paramilitaries could be moving towards decommissioning their weapons, the North's Secretary of State Shaun Woodward said today.
But he told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster that he remained committed to closing down decommissioning legislation if major progress was not made by August.
He also said that loyalist leaders had helped to calm tensions in the days after the murders of three security force members by dissident republican groups last month.
Meanwhile, the Committee today asked for submissions as part of its investigation into the Omagh bombing, with contributions from individuals or organisations requested by May 1.
Today, committee members again quizzed Mr Woodward on the questions raised over security force handling of intelligence over the bombing.
But the Secretary of State warned against raising expectations among relatives that the authorities could have prevented the 1998 atrocity which killed 29 people, including that of a woman carrying unborn twins.
He said mistakes had been made, but that these had been investigated and lessons had been learned.
“I don’t think we could have stopped the bomb from happening,” he said.
“Indeed we couldn’t. We did not know.”