Another day in which terrorism in various forms shows its face

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

This column yesterday morning made what ought to be the non contentious point that no-one should be in government if they cannot support the authorities against terrorism in all its shades.

Then, later yesterday, it emerged that a journalist had been threatened by loyalists. The circumstances of the threat have not been revealed.

Also yesterday, police came under attack in Londonderry amid the backdrop of illegal dissident republican parades.

Michelle O’Neill said that those responsible should be brought before the law. They certainly should, and it is welcome that Sinn Fein’s northern leader said so. Also that Colum Eastwood described the attacks as “disgraceful”.

In another development yesterday, six men were brought before a court on a charge of taking part in an illegal dissident parade.

The law will take its course in that case, but in general it is heartening to see the police take action against such events.

There was a time when they seemed to be reticent to intervene, typically saying that they were studying video footage of an illegal event. That was not enough. They events have to be stopped at the time, but when they are stopped, violence might well flare.

One of the most important elements to the response of the authorities to such violence is that anyone who is found guilty of a calculated attack that puts human life at risk is given a long prison sentence, which might work as some deterrent to some would-be rioters.

The loyalist threat to the journalist is similarly outrageous and the mere issuing of such a threat should also result in lengthy prison terms for anyone found guilt of it.

Through the dark days of the Troubles, journalists put themselves at risk so that the world at large knew what was happening in Northern Ireland.

A press free from intimidation and censorship plays one of the most vital roles in any democratic society.