VIOLENCE and intimidation that has ensued from the controversial Belfast City Council vote on the flying of the Union Flag is totally unacceptable and can in no way be condoned or justified, whatever the political motivation of those involved.
The ugly intimidation was directed at the Alliance Party, with the Carrickfergus office of East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson burned out; the home of North Down councillors Michael and Christine Bower targeted and a personal threat made against East Belfast councillor Laura McNamee.
Leaders of all of the Stormont political parties have condemned the attacks, which, police believe, may have involved paramilitaries.
Unionist politicians, in particular, have been scathing of the unruly elements who went on the rampage on the back of legitimate peaceful protests against the lowering of the Union Flag.
East Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson said: “People are entitled to peacefully protest, but there is absolutely no justification for the carnage which has been caused in Carrickfergus. Those involved do a disservice to the flag they claim to defend.”
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said the violence was “legally and morally wrong”.
“What unionism needs today is brains, not brawn. We need an analysis, a strategy and an agreed outcome,” he said.
TUV leader Jim Allister said the violence was “utterly wrong”.
As a newspaper fully supportive of the Union Flag flying daily on government and civic buildings, in keeping with our proud status as a UK province, we would echo the words of condemnation for the violence, reminding all that the pursuit of democratic politics is the only way to rectify deep-seated grievances.