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Ex-prisoners played their part for peace

Much has been said recently in relation to the presence of republican ex-prisoners as 'special advisers'.

Obviously, one cannot ignore the grief caused to relatives of victims by the elevation of the perpetrators of atrocities to 'special adviser' status.

These things happened in a our recent past and emotions for everyone are still raw and much hurt remains.

However, we are now in a much-changed political landscape. Many ex-prisoners helped in overt and covert ways to get their movement to where we are now.

A lot of these changes were anathema to them many years ago.

Their republican critics would condemn them for taking part in partitionist institutions, decommissioning weapons, local assembly etc, as well as abandoning the 'armed struggle'.

But these 'special advisers' must have supported these decisions and promoted the peace process. Many of these decisions must have involved much soul-searching and personal risk to them.

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No matter how you paint it, we are in a much better place today because of the compromises made by all sides - including these 'special advisers'.

This is realpolitik. It's not perfect, but we must make the best of it - for everyone's sake.