Friday, 15 July 2011
Five silly statements about the Ardoyne riots
You could list a lot more but here are my five favourites.
1. “The Twelfth of July is a traditional family celebration”. Certainly that’s the impression you would have been given if you’d watched UTV the other night. Paul Clarke presented a warm, folksy account of young people licking ice-cream, old men smiling as they remembered how long they’d been coming to the Twelfth, people pushing baby buggies and everyone having a good time. All of this no doubt was true but it wasn’t the whole truth. The rest of the truth about the Twelfth is to be found in its anti-Catholic constitution, its violent history and, inevitably, back at Ardoyne in stones and petrol bombs.
2. “There was no connection between parades and the Ardoyne rioting”. Nigel Dodds is a Cambridge graduate but he occasionally comes out with some awful bilge. He was asked about the riots that followed the marching of Orangemen past the Ardoyne shops on the Twelfth and he said that the rioters hadn’t even seen the march so there was no connection between the rioting and the parades. The implication being that you have to see something before it can motivate you to act: just knowing it’s happening or will happen isn’t good enough. Come on, Nigel. We may not have been to Cambridge but we’re not eejits.
3. “The Ardoyne rioters are thugs engaged in mindless violence/recreational rioting”. Mmm. Follow that one through and, according to the law of averages, there should be rioting by mindless thugs from time to time in the Malone area or in leafy North Down. What is it about the Ardoyne area that it hosts these outbreaks, while more comfortably-off areas seem miraculously free from disturbance? The fact is that the Twelfth violence, like the violence of the Troubles years, is overwhelmingly located in these poorer areas. But we don’t like talking about poverty. We might have to do something about it.
4. “The problem is what we can do about the rioting”. I’m not sure if anyone actually said this but the discussion on radio and television certainly implied it. Maybe these young people were engaging in recreational rioting? Maybe they didn’t have jobs and this was an expression of their frustration with the authorities? Widen the discussion, guys, and avoid the danger of blaming the victim. If the riots occur on and around the Twelfth, and the Orange marchers keep parading in the area where these young people live, might the marches not be the root problem?
5. “The dissident republicans are hopelessly infiltrated”. That’s what we were being told, what, about five years ago. I seem to remember one article that suggested there were more British agents in the ranks of dissident republicanism than there were dissident republicans. That claim seems to have been quietly dropped. Now “Dissidents are a growing threat’ is the line being fed to us. So what happened all those infiltrators, and were they to be found around Ardoyne over the past week?