The disgraceful attacks on police and property over the weekend have little to do with a border in the Irish Sea and everything to do with thuggery.
Thirty petrol bombs were thrown at officers and three cars were set alight during rioting near the Rathcoole estate in Newtownabbey on Saturday night.
The disturbances followed trouble in Sandy Row and Londonderry on Friday, in which more than two dozen police officers were injured. Political condemnation of the violence was swift and universal.
But the reality is that irresponsible comments by some unionist politicians about the Irish Sea border and the fallout from Bobby Storey's funeral have contributed to a febrile atmosphere. This has then been hijacked by paramilitary elements.
Some unionists were late to spot the constitutional problems posed by a border in the Irish Sea.
They preferred to accentuate the benefits of access to both UK and EU markets, before belatedly sensing a sea change in loyalism and following suit.
There is, however, an onus on political representatives to be measured in their choice of language. Sadly, this is not always the case.
It is a fact of life that there are legitimate concerns about Northern Ireland's place within the United Kingdom.
The prospect of a SNP "supermajority" in next month's elections to the Scottish parliament will, inevitably, lead to calls for a second independence referendum. An independent Scotland would leave Northern Ireland as part of a much smaller, and arguably weaker, Union.
Add fears over the border in the Irish Sea and you have the makings of a perfect storm.
However, street violence is a pointless distraction when the only actions that could allay such concerns are conducted between sovereign governments.
Unfortunately, Northern Ireland doesn't loom large in Boris Johnson's thinking, while the Prime Minister's standing among unionists has never fully recovered from his multiple Brexit betrayals.
Meanwhile, as always, it is the PSNI who are caught in the middle.
Whatever Simon Byrne's role in the Storey funeral, or even his suitability for the job, it can never justify attacks on his officers.
Violence develops a momentum of its own, to the point where it becomes self-perpetuating.
The job of politicians is to try to remove the root causes of violence, not inflame them.
That means a reasoned debate, not a race to lowest-common-denominator, dog-whistle politics. It would also help if politicians, such as Gerry Kelly, accepted that the debate about Irish unity is just that, a debate, and not a fait accompli, much less a stick with which to beat unionists.