After several nights of rioting in north Belfast, the political leaders at Stormont are at last taking charge of events.
The tone of the public debate has altered, and the mood music is changing. This is welcomed by everyone who wants to see an end to these worrying confrontations.
Following days of recrimination and megaphone politics, those in charge are tackling the central problem of taking the troubles off the streets. |Yesterday’s meeting at Stormont involved the main players, while community and church leaders at grass-roots level have been doing their best to dampen down the emotions.
After a leadership vacuum and what seemed like an inexplicable delay, the First Minister and Deputy First Minister have made their opposition to violence very clear and their support for the rule of law. They have made a start — and this is to be |welcomed.
The challenges should not be underestimated. People who have succumbed to violence will not switch off easily, and the peace-makers have their work cut out to put the genie back in the bottle. Nevertheless, people on all sides — apart from those who seek confrontation — want violence to end, and a solution must be found urgently.
This is not only because of the Ulster Covenant commemorations at the end of this month, but also because street confrontations cannot be allowed to play any part in the Northern Ireland of today if this province and its people are to enjoy a peaceful and more prosperous future.
It was disappointing to hear Mr Robinson|suggest earlier that people could make up their own minds about engaging in civil disobedience, but without resorting to violence. However, he has now clarified his remarks and his support for the |Parades Commission, and that of Mr McGuinness, is to be commended.
Every effort must be made to break the current impasse. Northern Ireland faces many other major problems, including the economy, and political energies need to be used outwards and not inwards in having to addressing age-old problems which tie all of us to the past. It is time for everyone to move on.