A cynical attempt to disrupt city
Yesterday's anti-internment parade in Belfast was a cynical exercise by a small group of people whose main purpose was to disrupt the normal life of the city on a summer's afternoon.
They deliberately flouted a Parades Commission determination to have their parade finished by 1.30pm, and instead they began their needless demonstration later, in order to create the maximum disruption.
One unfortunate coincidence was the arrival of a large cruise ship carrying many people who wanted to see the best of this city and province.
Instead, they were treated to the appalling scenes which people living here have long abhorred - rows of police vehicles, deserted streets, and marchers and protesters firmly striding towards the past rather than contributing to a better future for all.
Sadly, the anti-internment demonstrators could not care less about the effect of their baleful march to the centre of the city. They were protesting about a subject which belongs to the past, and in doing so they were deliberately causing trouble for its own sake.
Other marching groups have shown consideration for the general public, and for the welfare of everyone.
Over recent years, the Orange Order has deliberately tried to widen the appeal of their Belfast parade and to keep the city open.
The Apprentice Boys in Londonderry, and the erstwhile opponents of their parades, have shown good sense in recent times, and their once-controversial August parade passed off peacefully on Saturday.
However, there was one distressing incident when a coach on its way home was attacked, but the Derry people are to be commended for the progress they have made on parades. The Parades Commission has a difficult task to balance all needs, and it tried to maintain the peace by determining that the Belfast parade would be over by early afternoon. However, it was deliberately thwarted by the protesters, with the resultant lock-down in the city.
There really must be a better way of enforcing judgments, and punishing the breaches of the Commission's determinations, without such consequences. Once again, a small group triumphed in their disruption, and all the other innocent people lost. Belfast and its traders, people and visitors deserve much better than this.