The vexed issue of the past has once again reared its ugly head, highlighting how far some in our society have yet to travel.
Given our turbulent history of violence and division, it is not surprising that the past still creates problems.
It is open to debate and interpretation, depending on your point of view.
What is unquestionable however it that is in the past and cannot be altered. Another fact that cannot be disputed is that the present situation in the north is very far removed from the past.
The two collide however when some, usually for political motives, attempt to bring the past into the present.
Just as the past cannot be changed, neither can it be ignored.
Arguments that we should simply forget and move forward do not hold water.
What we must do instead is find a mature and responsible way that allows up to examine the past without being shackled by it.
Having a past should not be regarded as an obstacle in the present or a barrier to the future.
Many in our community who are regarded as having a ‘past,’ - including ex-prisoners and former combatants on all sides - have been and continue to be instrumental in building a new future in our society.
The past is behind us and cannot be changed but if we attempt to exclude people from the future based solely on past actions, they we may never get to the kind of future we all want and deserve.