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Public money to appease terrorists the final insult

As an ex-soldier with the Ulster Defence Regiment, I know the pain and trauma republican terrorism has brought upon victims and families during the Troubles.

Many people from the younger generation do not realise the suffering of our communities during the 1970s-1990s, which, in many cases, emanated from the Republic of Ireland, to where republican terrorists escaped back across the border with ease.

Northern Ireland's innocent victims have suffered terribly at the hands of republican terrorists and without a shadow of doubt successive Dublin governments have played a part in spurring on IRA actions through a shared belief in a united Ireland.

Today, Stormont's politicians expect victims and families to put the past behind them and even forgive and forget. We hear so often that Northern Ireland is "moving forward" and we hear politicians talk of "leaving the past in the past".

But I refuse to accept that criminality should be rewarded through position, or financial reward. Regrettably, this is precisely what has happened.

Victims have become an embarrassment for unionist and nationalist politicians pontificating from their lofty ivory towers at Stormont.

Twenty years have passed since the IRA ceasefire, but we are still being poisoned with the same old rhetoric: "returning to the bad old days", "post-conflict", "ex-combatants" and "prisoner groups".

I abhor the thought that I, or any other taxpayer, should have to foot Stormont's (and the EU's) bills in sponsorship of ex-terrorist groups. Why should taxpayers have had to fund more than £18m drip-fed in the past seven years to keep ex-terrorists from re-offending, or community groups with paramilitary connections to be sent on holidays?

DONALD CRAWFORD

TUV Assembly candidate

Fermanagh & South Tyrone

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