Shameful episode in north Belfast is no example to youth

Morning View
Morning View

An extraordinary aspect of the footage of Gerry Kelly clinging to a police van is the fact that it is Sinn Fein who have posted it online, evidently pleased with what it shows.

Days after photographs showed a sharply-dressed Martin McGuinness being civilised and sharing conversation over drinks with the most powerful politicians in the world, republicans aren’t in the least embarrassed by this shameful episode in Carrick Hill.

They actually think it depicts aggression on the part of the PSNI. One of the Land Rovers was said to contain a rioter.

They inhabit such a parallel universe that they label such (worrying) timidity on the part of the PSNI as aggression.

Watch the footage online. Watch how Mr Kelly, aware of the camera, demands to speak to the officer in charge, and insists on the number of the officer who drove the police van (at a slow speed, until a mob converges on the vehicle, one man smashing at the windscreen).

As anyone with an acquaintance of policing in Northern Ireland knows, the problem is that riot squads are too soft.

The balance has long been tipped too far in favour of human rights, which typically means the human rights of, at best, rioting thugs, and, at worst, the rights of murderers.

The police often adopt a diplomatic low-key approach when mass trouble flares.

While it is good that there has lately been a string of prosecutions against rioters, the current sentences and the overall approach are a minimal deterrent.

Riots in places such as the Ardoyne have been indulged annually (and, indeed, rewarded last year by the Parades Commission, who forced Orangemen to miss the long-established return from the Field, to facilitate a manufactured dissident parade). The rioting will likely resume in a few weeks.

Mr Kelly’s conduct may have increased his standing with dissident elements, but it is no example to the young.