OK – let’s get above the swear words, the stones and exploding petrol bombs, and see if we can ask a few pertinent questions.
1. Why have young loyalists/unionists had been rioting? One reason is that they’re young. They’ve energy to burn (literally) and it sure beats watching TV or listening to your ma or granny chuntering on about the plot of EastEnders. The sheer delight of making the enemy – in this case the PSNI – cower and back off, if only temporarily, is an intense thing. In Spring a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love – and of course rioting.
2. Are rioters being masterminded by older, more calculating forces? Of course they are. The existence of the UDA, the UVF and the Red Hand Commando is accepted by all, not least the First Minister, who consults them as though they were super-SPADs. These super-SPADS know how violence gets media attention like nothing else. So they quietly steer young people to go mad in the best places.
But though republican politicians were critical, at no point did they call for the resignation of the Chief Constable. Arlene Foster has no qualms on that score, with the result that she finds herself on a very scary political ledge, asking for something she knows can’t happen.
3. Is there any connection between unionist politicians and the rioting? Well, obviously: like Paisley before them, unionist politicians warned that the North’s existence as a constituent part of the UK is at risk. And then rewarned and rewarned again. Eventually, street riots, fed by these words, flare into being. At which point unionist leaders say they find the violence understandable but please, it’s the wrong way to go. This strategy is commonly referred to as having your cake and eating it.
4. Why was there rioting in the nationalist area of the Springfield Road? Because, just as loyalist leaders knew that street violence would draw media interest, they also knew that blame could be heaped exclusively on loyalism/unionism. How to avoid this heavy load? Easy: goad nationalist/republican youngsters, so that now the violence looks more like a ‘one-side-is-as-bad-as-the-other’ affair. And simpletons that they were, young nationalists/republicans took the bait.
5. Did Arlene Foster’s demand that the Chief Constable of the PSNI must quit make sense? No, no and no again. The Chief Constable was already under pressure from nationalists/republicans because of the PSNI handling of the commemoration of those slaughtered in the Ormeau Road betting shop. Many nationalists/republicans were beginning to see the PSNI as the same-old-same-old strong arm of unionism. But though republican politicians were critical, at no point did they call for the resignation of the Chief Constable. Arlene Foster has no qualms on that score, with the result that she finds herself on a very scary political ledge, asking for something she knows can’t happen. Think for a minute: if her calls for CC Simon Byrne’s head were to succeed, how would that play in the nationalist/republican community? They’d rightly see it as the police service dancing to the demands of unionism once again. Not a good situation.
The @PoliceServiceNI chief Constable @ChiefConPSNI Simon Byrne says he will not be resigning after call from @DUPleader Arlene Foster for him to step down + that to do so would undermine the organisation @rtenews pic.twitter.com/8QxPKRlEFZ— Vincent Kearney (@vincekearney) March 30, 2021
6. What would Arlene Foster and the DUP do with Boris Johnson if they thought no one was looking? Well, first they’d strip him of all his clothes (indeed, Virginia, not a pretty thought). Then they’d smear his body in honey and tie him to a killer ant-hill. That done, they’d arrange their socially-distanced chairs so that Arlene, Sammy and yes, even little Jeffrey could sit and watch as the ants moved in and started to suck up the honey and chew up the PM.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that politics is all about duty and service, not personal pleasure. Duty and service can often as not join hands with pleasure in a happy, care-free knees-up. Ask Ian Paisley. Jr.