Fresh Riots in Northern Ireland injure 56 Policemen

The aftermath of a recent riot

By Riley Maxwell

On, 9th August 2013, last Friday night riots broke out once again in Belfast which left fifty-six police officers injured by loyalists contesting a republican parade. A contingent of 1,200 loyalists protested against the republican parade which was organised to commemorate Northern Ireland’s activation of the internment without trial law in 1971. The parade itself involved members of the Republican Network for Unity and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, two groups which are widely known to oppose the peace process and allegedly maintain links with IRA dissidents.

These recent riots add another chapter to what has been a tumultuous and inconsistent year for the peace process in Northern Ireland. The city has witnessed a series of outbreaks of violence and increased tension over the course of recent months, most notably over the removal of the Union Jack flag from the city in early December. However, at the same time, the country has welcomed prestigious leaders from across the world to the G8 summit in June and successfully hosted the World Police and Fire Games. The question that therefore must be asked is what does this renewed tension over parades really mean for the future of Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland has been quick to denounce the recent violence. Theresa Villers, the secretary of State has condemned the disorder ‘as a regrettable step backwards.’ While Matt Baggot the chief constable for the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) added the behaviour was ‘mindless anarchy and sheer thuggery.’ He also went on to say ‘the majority of the population will stand with me in condemning those who scarred the reputation of our city,’ which highlights the crux of the issue.

This protest itself, and the subsequent media coverage it has received on a national and international level, reinforces that the small minority of Northern Ireland who persist in inciting violence and hatred continue to dominate the public sphere. It is indeed this small minority who continue to represent Northern Ireland and overshadows any economic, social or political progress that has been and continues to be made. Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” There may never be an end to the minority of loyalists and republicans in Northern Ireland who while they consider themselves to be so different ideologically share remarkable similarities in their strategies to humiliate and harm, either ‘the Catholic community’ or ‘the Protestant community’ they represent. It should not be forgotten that it is the majority of the people of Northern Ireland who fight unrecognised to protect their country of the beauty, riches and romance it possesses, and as for these selfish men, they perhaps shall always shout, but the media can and should take away their microphones.

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