Police have described the violence of Wednesday night in Belfast as the worst seen in years. That may be true, relatively speaking, but it was at a level which would only have attracted coverage on a slow news day during the horrors of the Troubles.
However it showed that the downward momentum towards conflict is continuing and that the intemperate words issued by some politicians are coming back to bite them.
Calls for the Chief Constable to resign and suggestions that unionists are the victims of two-tier policing are being interpreted by malevolent forces as a call for street protests which they are cleverly manipulating to demonstrate their influence in their communities.
The First Minister Arlene Foster and her party, followed meekly by the Ulster Unionists, made a tactical blunder by calling for the Chief Constable to resign and then declined to meet him. When he refused to go and violence erupted on the streets with 50 police officers injured since the end of last month she had no option but to resile from her position and talk to him.
The five parties which make up the Northern Ireland Executive met yesterday to discuss the worsening situation but inevitably came up with the merest compromise statement, stating their grave concern at the disorder and calling for attacks on police officers to halt.
It essentially was a non-event. What else could an administration masquerading as a government do but back the forces of law and order and condemn those breaking the law.
In a way it shows the paucity of leadership qualities among the Executive. It is easy to point the finger at each other and blame them for the current problems but infinitely more difficult to come up with fresh ideas on how to cement peace 23 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
This is an opportunity for the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists to show the public that they are not mere makeweights in the Executive but can force the DUP and Sinn Fein to up their game. No one is holding their breath on this happening.
The NI Protocol and the refusal of the Public Prosecution Service to prosecute any Sinn Fein members for shamelessly breaching health guidance at the Bobby Storey funeral last year are given as tipping points for the anger which has erupted in loyalist/unionist areas.
No doubt there is real concern but the problems go much deeper.
Historic and continuing massive educational underachievement among young working-class Protestants has led to many believing they are an underclass with little opportunities and fed their frustration, especially when constantly told that 'the other side' get all the advantages.
The DUP's decision to throw in their lot with English nationalists over Brexit brought consequences the party did not countenance along with betrayal by the Prime Minister. It is only dawning on many people now how much money the European Union poured into Northern Ireland to rebuild its infrastructure and also create peace creation initiatives.
After years of being feted by international political figures in the Republic, Europe and America the hard fact for our local politicians to swallow is that they are now on their own. Even the Secretary of State took his time flying back for 'urgent' talks. It was urgency at a snail's pace.
Northern Ireland is a small, isolated political entity which was supposed to have solved its political problems two decades ago.
There is only minimal interest in any resurgence of those problems. The Prime Minister has little time for the province and the Taoiseach is fighting a rearguard action against the rise of Sinn Fein. The Biden administration in the US will always take its lead from Dublin not Belfast.
It is time for the 90 politicians at Stormont to work together to create a society in which everyone feels they have a stake. Rhetoric will not work, only fresh ideas and a genuine desire to fulfill the vision of the Good Friday Agreement. Failure is too terrible to contemplate.