No “inevitability” about riots

A lot has been said, rightly, about the lack of leadership around recent riots, which have primarily taken place in the Belfast area.

Worst of all is the view, widely promulgated both by the DUP and Sinn Fein, that riots are “inevitable”.

This is dangerous claptrap, frankly encouraging young men (predominantly) to go out and risk either injury or a criminal record which will have a seriously detrimental effect on their life chances in future. The politicians acting as apologists for rioters, meanwhile, will continue to draw their 50 grand a year on the Hill.

When the body legally charged with taking decisions about a parades routes does so, or the legitimate forces of law and order decide on their operations, or a Council makes a demoncratic decision, there is zero excuse for a riot, and there is zero point in a riot. Why can no one in the DUP, Sinn Fein or the Ulster Unionists simply come out and say that?

Indeed, right here and right now I challenge all the MLAs in the DUP, UUP and UKIP – always so keen on going on about how the “other side” breach the Rule of Law – simply to come out and say the riots were utterly inexcusable and that, when they started, any sensible person attending them would have sought to leave quickly and any responsible political representative would have urged them to do so. Go on, let us hear it!

We have a Commission appointed by the UK Government by law passed by the UK Government to determine parades routes of contentious parades; we have an impartial Police Service subject to the most complete oversight in the Western World; and we have democratically elected Councils subject to the will of the people as expressed via a broadly proportional system at elections. If you do not like decisions made by those bodies, you may seek to change them democratically, by voting in and even standing at elections and putting your case to the voters. We are fortunate to be in the minority worldwide who, when faced with a decision we don’t like, can subsequently and peacefully vote out those who made it (or who oversaw it). So there is, let us be clear again, zero excuse for a riot.

Every single MLA and civic office holder should be challenged to agree with that last paragraph – no ‘ifs’, no ‘buts’. Riots are absolutely not inevitable, and anyone suggesting they are is guilty of acting as an apologist for violence – and should be clear that the worst victims of that violence will be the impressionable young men wheeled out with their implicit support to participate in it.


13 thoughts on “No “inevitability” about riots

  1. madhava says:

    Is rioting in N. Ireland not considered a a national cultural pastime amongst the lesser class of intellectually challenged individuals ?

  2. Richard Price says:

    I agree with you here – political violence is utterly inexcusable when you live within a western democracy. Save us all the ‘freedom fighting’ guff – everyone in a liberal democracy already possesses freedom. This applies to Easter 1916 btw too (*awkward*).

    However, one small area I would pick up on is this line: “We are fortunate to be in the minority worldwide who, when faced with a decision we don’t like, can subsequently and peacefully vote out those who made it (or who oversaw it).

    I’m actually not sure that is true in a Northern Ireland context – mandatory coalition does make the possibility of voting out a government (e.g. one with the DUP and Sinn Fein) appear very much remote to impossible.

    That is in fact a big part of the problem in my opinion – mandatory coalition chokes off more constructive outlets for legitimate expression of discontent at the system – making violence in our society, so used to it as it is, if not ‘inevitable’ (definitely very irresponsible language for a politician to use – one might say inciting), then at least “more likely”.

    Further on this here

    • I think it a bit of a stretch to suggest that an “Opposition” would suddenly stop rioting…

      Ok, you didn’t quite say that, but precisely who would provide that opposition? Precisely how many of our elected reps were out, clearly and without caveat, saying the riots were wrong and anyone involved in them or in excusing them should be ashamed?

      Not very many – wouldn’t make much of an Opposition!

      In other words, although I think you and I essentially arrive at the same point, it’s not so much the system we need to change as the vast majority of those currently elected to operate it…

  3. guest says:

    “Rioting… will have a seriously detrimental affect on their life chances in future”

    Yes, but that should tell you something. It’s all very well, encouraging tourists, corporations, higher house prices, festivals, and G8 summits. But if the poorest, most likely to be caught up in crime see an ever-widening poverty gap, they’re going to feel even MORE disenfranchised, rather than less.

    We need to GIVE people life chances, so they can expect something other than being screwed as corporations like tesco syphon money out of the country.

    THEN, and ONLY THEN, should we crack down (and HARD) on people who still take to crime. Until then, though, it is the community committing crime against them, as much as the reverse.

    • I’m sure you mean well, but did you seriously write that?

      “We” already do give “them” life chances. “We” (the taxpayer) give “them” (the rioters) free education, free health services, free social care services, usually free housing, usually free utilities, and usually a raft of free health/fitness/leisure programmes. “We” don’t actually get given all of those things, but “they” do. So remind me, who’s discontented?

      Given that “we” already give “them” all of that (all while ourselves having to pay for our own child care, our own housing, our own utilities and our own programmes), you are still seriously excusing “them” rioting, wrecking the place and injuring public servants? Did you think before you wrote that?

      (Oh, and by the way, by all means take Tesco out of the country and thereby increase “their” food prices back to where they were before Tesco arrived. I’m sure that’ll help becalm “them”.)

  4. […] First Minister say that riots were “inevitable”, a point rightly refuted by Ian Parsley on his blog and called out to be inflammatory.  With this tacit support for civil disobedience many men, women […]

  5. Clare says:

    I have believed for many years that parties such as the DUP and Sinn Fein require the pot to continue boiling to justify their own existence.
    To this extent their apparent apathy and lack of leadership makes perfect sense.

  6. Clare says:

    I’m curious about what progress society here can make in terms of a shared future if the DUP and Sinn Fein have a vested interest in conflict.
    i see no prospect for the foreseeable future in either of these parties losing their grip over the respective tribes. What hope is there therefore for the future?

    • factual says:

      Its a good question. But society is not controlled by political parties,Clare. In fact, political parties have to in the end follow social changes. And so, there is hope. Look at the changes to society since the 1960s in terms of so many issues. Look at how the parties in the South of Ireland, or in GB, have changed since then. Do you think many people in NI actually are very interested in the Maze imbroglio? It seems a fairly minor issue. In short: the politicians in the end have to follow social and economic change, and can do little to shape it; especially since their powers (in NI) are fairly limited.

      • Great points.

        A mistake politicos make is to assume politicians determine the direction a country takes.

        No. Society does, people do. After all, they elect the politicians!

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