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Thugs won't turn tide of peace

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 11/08/2015

The bus that was attacked
The bus that was attacked
The sister’s facial injuries

The attack on a bus carrying supporters back to Belfast from the Apprentice Boys demonstration in Londonderry was despicable and cowardly. The result of throwing a boulder through the window of the vehicle was predictable, with a 61-year-old woman losing five teeth and suffering a serious facial injury requiring some 30 stitches when she was hit by the missile and flying glass.

But as Sandra Major pointed out, it was fortunate that the consequences were not even worse. Had the driver been hit or lost control there could easily have been fatalities.

The ambush on the bus was apparently pre-planned and has appalled most people in the town of Dungiven, where it happened. The forthright condemnation by a local priest is welcome and more representative of community feeling than the actions of those who stoned the bus.

What is most dispiriting about the incident is that it was carried out by people who were not even born when the paramilitary ceasefires, effectively ending the Troubles, were declared in the mid-1990s.

We saw similar involvement by young people when trouble flared in Belfast after an Orange Order parade was halted near Ardoyne on the Twelfth and on Sunday when an anti-internment march was stopped by police at Oldpark Road.

While there are always calls for community representatives to show greater leadership in such instances, real responsibility lies with parents to know what their children are up to and to avoid poisoning their minds by glorifying past violence, thereby passing the baton of hatred down to another generation.

Far better that they adopt the attitude of community workers in the Shankill and Ardoyne who annually bring young people from their areas to a township in South Africa to help poor people there. What those young people experience there must make the troubles in their own communities seem parochial and small-minded.

These community workers are among the unsung heroes of Northern Ireland and are far more representative of the vast bulk of the population than the thugs who manipulate young people into acts of hatred. Thankfully they are small in number and we should remember that 35,000 people attended the Apprentice Boys demonstration with only that one regrettable incident. All is far from lost yet.

Belfast Telegraph

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