Monday 12 September 2005


The Sydenham Bypass — the main road out of Belfast into North Down — was gridlocked this evening with people getting the hell out. Airport Road West, where I work, is an alternative route that most people prefer not to use because of the speed-bumps. It was chocka; I've never seen it like that before. Central Station was shut by a bomb-scare. Saw one of the army bulldozers being taken out on duty. Until you've seen the army's riot bulldozers, you ain't seen bulldozers.

These weren't just riots. They were orchestrated attacks. The police were fired on with machine guns. If you've not seen the news footage yet, it's an education.

That bearded git has, annoyingly, got a good point:

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams accused Mr Paisley and Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey of giving "wrong and negative leadership". He said they could not wash their hands of what happened.

Mr Adams said if he had said "even a measure" of some of the comments made prior to the march, there would have been calls for his arrest.

Yes, there would, and he's broadly right. There are differences: everyone knows that Adams is the head of the IRA, and the IRA's followers therefore know that, when he says something, it's an instruction. But still. Mainstream Unionist leaders know from experience what the consequences of their words can so often be. They should adjust their words accordingly.

Many unionist leaders have "abdicated responsibility" for weekend violence, President George Bush's special envoy to Northern Ireland has said.

Mitchell Reiss said leadership was needed but "in the last few days we haven't seen very much of it".

In previous years, this would have been just more of the usual American Oirish bullshit, but George Bush, lest we forget, refuses even to appear in the same room as Sinn Fein politicians, let alone meet them. When this administration says the Unionists are no good, they mean it.

So what started all this, then? Belligerent Orange bastards, as usual.

Two nights of violence began on Saturday when a controversial Protestant Orange Order march was re-routed away from the mainly Catholic Springfield Road area of west Belfast.

After a request by unionists on Friday, the Parades Commission reviewed its ruling on the route, but decided not to change it.

The main reason for the IRA's "ceasefire" is that Loyalist violence is getting worse, with no end in sight, and the IRA know that this stuff makes them look good. For decades, each side has looked as bad as the other. Suddenly, Sinn Fein are a shining beacon of reasonableness. The IRA won the propaganda war some years ago, and are now just laughing as the thugs of the UVF, LVF, and UDA do their work for them.

The Orange Order need to ask themselves how important parade routes really are. Sure, they're right: people in the rest of the UK can organise marches without having them vetoed by political pressure groups, so why shouldn't they? But they well know that their uncompromising insistence on certain routes leads to rioting, and that rioting, especially in the light of the IRA's "ceasefire", makes the rest of the UK think that Northern Irish Protestants are an insane bunch of violent foreigners that the country could do without. That way lies Unification.

So what's it to be? Do you want to live in the UK and have an irritating politically stacked sectarian quango tell you where you can or can't march? Or would you rather be free to march wherever you like in the United Irish Republic? This is not a trick question.

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