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Let us help ex-paramilitaries find new lease of life

Published 07/09/2015

One of the major problems highlighted in other parts of the world where conflict is an issue is finding work for ex-paramilitaries.

Northern Ireland is no exception and undoubtedly criminal activity - falling short of military activity - will be attractive for a lot of them if they cannot get work because of their past.

Reintegrating ex-paramilitaries into society, much like ordinary prisoners, is very difficult and has been overlooked by the overall peace process.

A special employment commission should be established for the purposes of making sure those who are identified as ex-paramilitaries are not allowed to drift. Breaches of licensing arrangements by those released under the Good Friday Agreement prove this point.

Examples in Latin America, such as Guatemala and El Salvador, have proven economic opportunities are key to shifting old attitudes and lifestyles away from terrorism.

One of the biggest threats to the peace process - if not the biggest - is the general overall level of criminal activity.

From various cases, more and more ex-paramilitaries are slipping back into their nefarious ways.

Instead of being paramilitaries, they are becoming garden-variety common criminals, as they may find it extremely difficult to get any kind of work.

Human beings often drift into unhealthy ways and attitudes when they become unproductive.

It has recently been reported no fewer than 150 criminal gangs exist in Northern Ireland.

You can be sure many of them have been lying idle for years - if not decades.

It will hardly do wonders for the peace process by giving it a boost.

Given the recent crisis, it would seem timely to fix the ex-paramilitary problem with examples elsewhere in the world in attempting to find them work.


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