Firm politics and not bus hijackings is way to oppose Northern Ireland Protocol

News Letter editorial of Monday November 8 2021:

By Editorial
Monday, 8th November 2021, 8:20 am
Updated Monday, 8th November 2021, 8:23 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

As this newspaper went to press last night, there was another hijacking and burning of a bus by loyalists.

This time it happened near Rathcoole.

As the Transport Minister Nichola Mallon said in a tweet, reproduced below, buses are essential for people to get to and from work and other vital engagements such as hospital appointments. If the bus stock continues to be reduced, the bus timetable will also have to be reduced.

Hijackings and burnings are very dangerous too, and involve huge fires that could explode and spread.

But not only are these attacks utterly wrong, they are — as Owen Polley writes opposite — counter productive.

Or even if not that, then they will not secure the objectives of the attackers.

It is little wonder that some people think violence will pay, given the shameful way in which a range of politicians on both sides of the border, and indeed beyond these shores, cited a return to Irish republican violence as the reason why there could be no border infrastructure at the land frontier.

These claims were barely challenged in much of the media, but rather reported as if a factual assessment of a likely trigger of terrorism, and they were barely challenged at the time by the UK government either.

But however understandable the unionist anger at they way in which the Northern Ireland Protocol came into being, seizing buses and setting them alight is outrageous and rightly a serious criminal offence.

We hope the police bring the culprits to justice.

This episode is all the more regrettable given that last night the united unionist opposition to the protocol was on display, with both the DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and his UUP counterpart Doug Beattie defending the possible use of Article 16 to suspend the protocol. That is the way forward against the Irish Sea border: a robust, unified and entirely peaceful political rejection of an internal UK barrier.

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