Belfast Telegraph

Protesters revelling in their unfettered power

Another weekend, with more protests over the Union flag issue, and so it goes on. Last night there was widespread disruption, with a bus hijacked, rugby supporters inconvenienced, the public left stranded by the withdrawal of bus services and anarchy on our streets.

People from all backgrounds are asking: What is going on? Why are we descending into mayhem while those with the power to stop it are standing by?

The public is being held to ransom by a minority of 200 activists, including sinister figures who orchestrate the disorder. Women and children are also used as part of their reckless strategy.

The protesters have ignored the Secretary of State and their own politicians. They have ignored Church leaders and community workers. They have ignored the wishes of the overwhelming majority throughout Northern Ireland.

Many peaceful protests have degenerated into violence. The protesters have created major international headlines which threaten vital inward investment. They have lost Belfast traders millions in income, they have injured police officers, and still they continue.

The blunt truth is that these people do not give a damn about anyone else. They are revelling in their new-found power to disrupt, and they are enjoying their sudden ability to determine the pattern of life in this province.

It is the protesters who decide when people leave work, when motorists are stopped, when tourists like the Glaswegians over here for last night's rugby game are to be treated with contempt.

People are asking: "Is anyone in control? Can unionism ever get these people off the streets? What are the police doing, apart from telling motorists to turn back or standing bravely in line while youths hurl bricks and petrol bombs at them?"

It is time for this madness to stop. The longer it goes on the harder it will be to get back to normality.

The streets need to be cleared, either way, and politics need to be made to work. Otherwise we will all remain at the mercy of anarchy, and we simply cannot go on living like this.

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