Editorial - Responsible leadership needed

The furore over letters issued by the British government to republicans who fled the North in fear of arrest during the Troubles once again highlights the abject failure of some parties to deal with our past.

The fear to confront the past is so great that First Minister Peter Robinson, no doubt with one eye on the forthcoming elections, threatened to bring the Assembly down around him.

This piece of political theatre, motivated by the internal tensions plaguing unionism, only served to make matters worse rather than responsibly addressing the problem.

The same unionists then made bizarre claims to be have been unaware of the situation, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

In a further twist, those unionists who had been complaining that republicans had been handed a ‘get out of jail’ free card by the British government were then given something similar when Prime Minister David Cameron ordered an inquiry into the whole affair.

This gives Peter Robinson breathing room and will avoid the need for a costly, and potentially embarrassing impromptu Assembly election.

All of this has been brought about by the unwillingness of those in positions of political leadership within unionism to deal with the extremists in their own communities.

Responsible leadership which recognises the realities of power sharing and the compromises that come with it is sadly lacking in this debate.