THE recent loyalist flag protests have been a disaster for unionism.
Even the street blockages that have remained non-violent have disrupted and antagonised many in the population who would otherwise be sympathetic.
But the attacks on the police or on the homes of politicians such as the SDLP member Claire Hanna are wicked.
Even if Ms Hanna was a hardliner, such an attack would be cowardly, anti democratic and despicable,
But she isn’t. Her bonehead attackers are presumably unaware that Ms Hanna is one of the SDLP politicians who condemned the naming of a playpark in Newry after an IRA man.
Do the loyalists not realise how important it is that some such nationalists still exist, when so many other (supposedly moderate) nationalists are enthusiastically joining in the whitewashing of decades of IRA murder?
Even those loyalists who lack the moral compass to understand the wrongness of such attacks should at least try to grasp how damaging the violence has been to the cause that they profess to support.
The News Letter was a staunch and early defender of maintaining the daily flying of the Union Flag at Belfast City Hall. Our position on the flag is unchanged.
Its removal was part of a pan-nationalist assault on every aspect of Britishness except cheques from the Treasury.
But now the hooded youths have managed to obscure that.
Insofar as anyone outside Northern Ireland is interested, they see Union Flag wielding protesters as the troublemakers. Unforgivably, loyalists have allowed Sinn Fein to depict themselves as the reasonable democrats.