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Editor's Viewpoint: Reverse insensitive Glenholmes decision

This newspaper does not deny the right of people who were once actively involved with terrorist organisations becoming part of the democratic process.

Indeed, for decades it campaigned for those involved in violence to lay down their arms and embrace politics. And it recognises, as do most people in the province, that former activists have played an important part in underpinning the peace process and heralding a new era of power-sharing politics.

Eibhlin Glenholmes is a republican who once was the most wanted woman in Britain on terrorism charges. She now embraces politics and has done much work with former prisoners, drawing on her own experiences, and, no doubt, has a lot to offer in reconciliation. Input from those actively involved in republican and loyalist groups is important in attempts to reach consensus on the way forward.

But just as attitudes change, so too does the dynamic of the democratic process as its lifecycle matures. Today, 14 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, we should not still be having those jarring reminders of the past as with the appointment of Ms Glenholmes to the Victims and Survivors' Forum. While she may consider her involvement in the republican campaign as making her a victim of circumstances, that is not the definition of victim that most people accept.

Those who have been bereaved, maimed or traumatised by violence, from whatever quarter, can credibly call themselves victims. The presence in the Forum of someone who was part of an organisation which left people bereaved, maimed and traumatised is insensitive and unnecessary. There are other people in Sinn Fein with no historic baggage who could bring the party's perspective to the Forum without causing offence.

Some people might argue that since the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, for example, is a former terrorist then there should be no bar on such activists in any public office. However, Mr McGuinness holds his position by democratic vote. Ms Glenholmes' past should not debar her from public positions, but sensitivities and sensibilities should be acknowledged in any appointment.