So it’s the eleventh of July. And nearly all politician of all political stripes are making hay over who’s to blame for any impending trouble in Ardoyne (in the last few years the rioters have been nationalist, and they’ve not waited for those Orange feet to come anywhere near before venting their hatred for ‘the other tradition’.
But the Belfast Telegraph print edition, there’s a timely editorial that notes that that for all the Morcombe and Wise performance of blissful skipping togetherness on Stormont hill (h/t Mr Feeney), there is a distinct lack of political leadership around these events. And the Bel Tel has also noted the criminal justice system should perhaps take the gloves off:
New crowd control measures are one possible advance, but even more pressing is the need for the courts to hand out deterrent sentences to convicted rioters. The process of apprehending rioters, bringing them before the courts and securing a conviction is a lengthy one in Northern Ireland, certainly compared to the speed with which courts in England dealt with last year’s serious rioting in cities like London and Manchester.
As well, the sentences handed out here seem lenient by comparison. A man who dropped a breeze block on a female police officer in Belfast seriously injuring her was given a four-year jail term. Three Nottingham petrol bombers were given jail sentences of 10, 12 and 14 years.
And what’s good for Ardoyne ought also to be good for Ballyclare. At the end of the day, the Parades Commission can only work with what it’s given. But many of these problems need political solutions and political leadership if they are ever going to get resolved.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty