Unionists are outraged at IRA funeral saga but barely anyone supports riots as a response to it

News Letter editorial of Monday May 5 2021:

Monday, 5th April 2021, 8:59 am
Updated Monday, 5th April 2021, 11:15 am
News Letter editorial

Even if the violence in loyalist areas was likely to achieve something, it would be morally wrong.

But it won’t even achieve anything, so it is wrong and stupid.

Most violence on either side of the community since the 1990s ceasefires has been carried out by youths.

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It wastes police resources, it often leads to officers being injured, property damaged, and it diminishes the image of Northern Ireland.

It is right therefore that rioting is followed by arrests and where possible convictions. That should be seen to be the approach and outcome after violence from any section of the community.

It is appropriate that people who engage in such conduct are charged with criminal offences, yet it is at the same time a tragedy to see young people blemished by a criminal record.

It is absurd, however, for Gerry Kelly to say the disturbances are a “consequence of the actions of political unionism”.

The Sinn Fein politician, who once got an informed warning for trying to stop a police Land Rover during tensions in north Belfast in 2013, was recently named by the BBC Nolan Show as having been the point of contact with the PSNI over last year’s Bobby Storey funeral. Assistant chief constable Alan Todd did not deny that Kelly had been the contact.

There is no official verdict on who was to blame for the Storey mass distancing breach because the lengthy various investigations into different aspects of the IRA funeral ultimately, and remarkably, found no-one to be made culpable. But Sinn Fein leaders were at the helm of that funeral, which has caused a widespread public feeling of ill-will.

The party did great damage to the social distancing message on June 30.

Barely anyone is inclined to react violently to the flagrant funeral breach or the later exoneration of everyone who was investigated over it. But just because most people react with decency and restraint does not mean they have watched the saga with anything other than dismay and contempt.

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Alistair Bushe

Editor