Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Chief constable's ultimatum welcome

The police have directly challenged the politicians and others to try to prevent a repeat next year of the Ardoyne violence, and they are right to do so.

The Chief Constable Matt Baggott was correct in saying that the disturbances were not representative of the general picture in Northern Ireland where community relations have steadily improved of late.

The aim must be to find out why some parts of the province are falling behind, like Ardoyne, and this is a challenge for the politicians, community workers and the police themselves.

There are certain obvious causes, including the willingness of young people to attack the police without cause, and the lack of parental control over those involved.

However, the problem runs much deeper. As Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr has pointed out, our society can no longer afford this annual period of "madness", which is proving so costly in every way.

This has been going on for far too long, during a period when most other troublesome confrontations, apart from Drumcree, have been sorted out.

Many of those seeking a solution in the Ardoyne have already spent time and effort in trying to build bridges, but the search for a solution for next year must begin again immediately.

Some of the politicians have shown their frustration with the determinations of the Parades Commission, but they too are more a symptom of the malaise than the cause. Much better thinking is required all round in order to make lasting progress.

This must begin with more talking and with the development of greater trust on the ground. This is where the local politicians and community leaders must play a vital part.

Perhaps the only positive point about this year's disturbances is that they were not as bad as those of last year, but that is no way to plan ahead. The goal must be to achieve a lasting agreement.

None of us can afford another 'Ardoyne', including those most closely involved.

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