Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Contemptible lawlessness and anti-social behaviour in parts of our community must be met by the full force of the law

The bonfire at the New Lodge area of north Belfast
The bonfire at the New Lodge area of north Belfast

Editor's Viewpoint

Once again the ugly face of parts of our community have made the headlines through vile slogans on bonfires in Belfast and Newry this week.

It is almost impossible for the rest of us to comprehend the sick mentality of a minority of others who want to laugh at and scorn the murders and tragedies that have broken the hearts of so many people during the long years of violence in our Province.

Sadly, there is a real sense these ghouls actually enjoy gloating at the pain which they deliberately and needlessly inflict on others.

Such crude human behaviour - seen at loyalist bonfires as well - crosses almost every boundary of a normal, civilised society.

In real terms it is the continuing rancid outworking of the sectarianism that has been stalking and often imprisoning parts of our society for far too long. It is even more depressing to realise this is going on more than 20 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

There is also a strong feeling of anger at the same old lawlessness that has been played out again. These bonfires are pyres of hatred which are manifestations of the lawlessness and sickness among sectarian minorities.

It is good to see these posters being treated with contempt for being the hate crimes they undoubtedly are. All of this is reassuring at a time when police tactics appear to favour a softly, softly approach to these law-breakers.

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No doubt the police commanders had good practical reasons for pulling their forces out of the troubled bonfire area in north Belfast, but the impression remains that this was an example of the police on the retreat, leaving the local residents to fend for themselves.

The law is unquestionably the cornerstone of our democracy, which is why law-enforcing must not only be done but be seen to be done. It is clear that a vital message is sent out to warn people that such dreadful anti-social behaviour will be met by the full force of the law.

It is a message the new Chief Constable and his colleagues would do well to take to heart.

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