Leading article: Northern Irish disturbances that mar wider progress

Share
Related Topics

Disturbances centred on the east Belfast Catholic pocket of Short Strand are, alas, nothing new. In the 1920s Irish nationalist leader Michael Collins complained of attacks on its residents by armed loyalist mobs. In the local Catholic church, soldiers had to set up a machine-gun post in the Mother Superior's cell. Every few decades things flare up again: nine years ago disorder broke out and lasted for months. It is the scene of division and high segregating "peacelines", a misnomer if ever there was one.

The district's barbed wire and industrial-strength steel mesh are just five miles away from Holywood in County Down, the pleasant seaside town where Rory McIlroy honed the golfing skills which won him the US Open at the weekend. The elation generated by his victory was still in the air when news of the latest rioting, the worst for years, came through. Suddenly headlines about sporting excellence in Northern Ireland were displaced by others about backstreet violence.

What is not apparent from the television pictures is that the trouble at Short Strand, and a few other flashpoints, is highly localised. It is also not obvious that these outbreaks are becoming more and more of a rarity, or that the vast majority of the population has left these things behind.

There is a new atmosphere, and there are new relationships, which mean that many such flare-ups are avoided. One-time hard men, including both loyalist and republican ex-prisoners, now work together behind the scenes to prevent trouble.

These networks of former enemies do good work in keeping the peace, but they are not foolproof and there are occasions when the hotheads – some of them paramilitary, some of them aggro-seeking youngsters, spill on to the streets.

Yesterday police firmly attributed blame to loyalist extremists, who for a while have been largely inactive but who periodically flex their muscles. There may be more nights of rioting but, thankfully, there is no widespread appetite for trouble: there is instead a strong feeling that an isolated incident should not become general.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral