Editorial - The past is not a contest to be won

Over recent months many within unionism have made repeated claims that nationalists and republicans are trying to rewrite the hsitory of the conflict in the North.

Other go further still and claim that attempts are being made to alter the history of the North since partition.

These voices, which include many across the broader unionist family, claim the version of recent history put forward by nationalists and republicans is motivated by political concerns and does not reflect reality.

Many of those who hold such a position refuse to acknowledge that nationalists were subjected to decades of discrimination - despite overwhelming and officially recognised evidence to the contrary.

They also refuse to accept that during the conflict a campaign of sectarian murder was waged against nationalists and republicans by official state forces and their proxies in loyalist death squads; another widely recognised fact.

The old adage that ‘history is written by the victors’ seems particularly apt in this case but perhaps not in a way many within unionism would appreciate.

Unionists often claim they are the victors of the peace process but, by the defensive position they have adopted in rejecting any version of the past that does not suit their narrative, they are behaving like the losers.

For those who reject the more difficult and uncomfortable aspects of the past out of hand without attempting to engage with and understand it, the task of moving forward will prove almost impossible.

The past is not a contest that can be won or lost. Too many lives and opportunities have been lost already without going on to squander the chance of a better future in the cause of arguments that cannot be won by anyone.