Rioters in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Fears of new ‘Troubles’ after Northern Ireland riots


Rioters in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The Irish media has several stories this Sunday predicting a new round of violence in the North after last week's rioting during the height of the Orange marching season.

The difference this year, as the Observer newspaper points out, is the level of coordination of the nationalists who rioted, almost all of them dissident republicans who have never accepted the peace process.

From Mid Ulster to North Belfast, the riots were cleverly coordinated leading to fears that a new wave of violence is set to wash up on Northern Ireland's shores.

The extraordinary scenes in Belfast's Ardoyne, where local nationalist residents came out to stop rioters Tuesday evening, is an example of how this issue is a very pressing one and needs to be resolved.

A whole new chapter of The Troubles is predicted by some, including Henry MacDonald in the Observer newspaper who sees in those same street rioters, the ghost of how the original IRA began back in Belfast and Derry in the early days of the Troubles.

I hardly believe that is the case, but if you wanted to look at a very worrying incident, last week there certainly seemed ground for concern.

The Dublin-Belfast train was hijacked outside Lurgan on July 12th and there was an attempt to set the train on fire by burning the luggage.

An alert community worker saw the gang dousing the luggage with gasoline and threw the bags off the train. The fact that there were sixty people on the train at the time and that a fire could have consumed them, seemed to matter little to the dissidents who set the fire.

Such an incident, if it had happened, would have immediately created a huge crisis in the North.

Ironically, since the changeover to the PSNI, the intelligence on the dissidents has not been as good as when the old RUC was on the scene.

There is no question that many of the more experienced dissident watchers retired or moved on to new posts when the new police force came into being.

The incident last week clearly shows that these dissidents are dead-set on reigniting The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

There is every reason to be concerned, but the sight of residents stopping the dissidents in Ardoyne is a welcome sign of how much has changed in Northern Ireland.

They were saying there will be no return to the bad old days. So were Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson, who stood shoulder to shoulder on this.

They deserve gratitude and support for that.


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