There doesn’t appear to be much good news coming from the North at the moment does there? We all know what happened back in December what with the union flag or as some may know it, ‘the Butcher’s apron’, no longer flying 365 days a year but on designated days thanks to a compromise motion proposed and accepted by APNI (the Alliance). After this we saw weeks of fascist unionist violence and illegal demonstrations as part of a long-term, co-ordinated attempt to oust APNI MP Naomi Long from her East Belfast constituency. Whether this will prove successful or not we will find out come the next Westminster elections, however, in the meantime the DUP and UUP appear to have opened the gates of hell and ‘it’ has hit the fan.
There were a number of sustained and in many ways justified complaints about the PSNI handling of sporadic and unplanned parades, demonstrations and road blockages through out the North, a series of events that adversely effected a whole host of businesses in the North particularly retail and hospitality industries who rely on December party season for a huge chunk of their profits. 2012 was not a great year for many and the antics of December have surely sunk a few of these often family run business, but who cares about that ay? There time, there place.
With this in mind, our First Minister Peter Robinson has either stated the obvious or is stirring the pot. BBC Norn Iron notes the FM’s thoughts after discussions with Chief Constable Matt Baggott:
He also claimed there was a belief courts were treating the two sides differently with leading republicans getting bail in contrast to loyalists.‘
Meanwhile, over at the Bele Tele, Baggott defended his fellow officers who have been in the firing line with protestors and now politicians of both shades:
In many ways, I have to agree with him though. The PSNI were facing something of an untenable position where two of the four main parties decided to go rogue and were openly supporting drug-trafficking loyalist gangsters and civil disobedience in the most important time of year for the retail and hospitality industry, roadblocks appeared at will and trouble often flared, it was not particularly conducive to kettling was it? However, I also wonder if some of these interfaces were dealt with more robustly and sooner would be facing this crisis of confidence?
What I do know is that when matters may have been being dialed down a bit, Peter Robinson, the First Minister of and for everyone in the North, decides to open his mouth and openly question the PSNI and the courts system in relation to their impartiality, perceived or otherwise. I wouldn’t mind, however, he decides to use little evidence in any of his assertions and openly admits that it’s based on perception:
‘There certainly is a perception out there within the unionist community that when you see several leading republicans getting bail and several leading members of the loyalist community not getting bail that there is a lack of balance in the way these matters are dealt with.‘
Ah, the crux of the matter. Themmuns are out on bail while Ussuns are not. Sometimes, I’m amazed at how things can get any worse in the North especially after what has happened in the past and the painstaking work everyone has put in to shift the paradigm, yet some people just can’t help themselves at times. Depressing stuff.