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Time to find way of dealing with victims' issues

The appointment of Mary McArdle as a Sinn Fein adviser has caused a great deal of controversy and debate.

It has divided opinion as to whether it is morally right to appoint ex-prisoners to profile positions. It has re-ignited the debate around how we deal with the past.

More importantly, it has shown that, if you scratch the surface of victims and victim-survivors, their wounds are still extremely raw. I empathise with the Travers family and can understand their feelings. However, I am of the opinion that Ms McArdle should not resign her position.

I do not say this lightly, as I myself lost my mother at the hands of the UVF in 1979.

One of the most controversial, yet significant, parts of the Good Friday Agreement was the early release of prisoners. Public opinion was divided on this issue, but we accepted it as part of the conflict-transformation process.

It has been repeated again and again that we should put the past behind us and move on.

Ms McArdle is a part of that past, as is the Travers family, as is my family and hundreds of other families.

There has been a collective failure in finding a way forward. It is within this context that we must find a way to deal with the past in a sensitive and inclusive manner.

The politicising of victims' issues needs to end and serious debate needs to begin on how to acknowledge the wrongs of the past - for all our sakes.

JOSEPHINE LARMOUR

Belfast

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