BACK in July 2001, I was appalled at the sight of Protestant children getting caught up in trouble at Drumcree protests.
I spoke out on Radio Ulster of my dismay at the way Protestant children were being corrupted by the lawlessness they experienced at protests over marches.
I predicted – correctly – that the long-term effect would be a decline in discipline in Protestant schools and a corresponding drop in achievement.
At the weekend PUP conference, Billy Hutchinson claimed that, "Protestant children living in deprived neighbourhoods receive the worst education".
This is exactly the sort of statement that will damage schools in difficult areas.
Mr Hutchinson needs to stop trying to blame the teachers and the schools and face up to the obvious source of the problem.
We have had almost continuous turmoil in Protestant areas. On social media, you see there's an attempt – spearheaded by some loyalist parties – to destroy all support for the police.
When young Protestants are exposed to these messages and experience for themselves the thrill of facing down the police in armoured Land Rovers, is it surprising that the teacher in the classroom struggles to create a focussed atmosphere?
Unless there is an effort to create order on Protestant streets and unmistakable support for discipline and effort in our classrooms, we are headed for anarchy.