Long term readers will recognise that this blog does not chart every instance of violence in Northern Ireland in order to blame it on a particular political tradition.
Vandalism, crime, rioting and associated ills are all deplorable, whichever ‘community’ the perpetrators might be perceived as belonging to. You have not, and will not, turn to ‘Three Thousand Versts’ for a virtual tick chart of attacks on Orange Halls, GAA facilities etc.
I am not particularly interested, either, in exploring the supposed whys and wherefores of ‘interface’ rioting in East Belfast. The only analysis we need is that this type of wanton destruction is shameful, whoever is responsible. However, it is fair to say that one particular detail springs out of media reports of the trouble.
On Bank Holiday Monday, when violence erupted, Sinn Féin was holding a ‘rally’ to mark the closure of Mountpottinger police station. Not, as readers who do not come from Northern Ireland might assume, to protest at services being removed from the community, but rather to celebrate their removal.
You might be forgiven for requiring a moment to let that sink in.
A mainstream political party, purportedly supportive of the functions of policing and justice, CELEBRATING law and order provision being removed from a community.
What might we expect next from the Shinners? A giddy hooley rejoicing as a school shuts its doors? Perhaps, if it is either a grammar or an integrated school.
This ‘rally’ is a reminder, if one were needed, that, in Provisional Sinn Féin, we are dealing with a crude practitioner of identity politics. ‘Ghetto politics’ as the SDLP’s Alistair McDonnell describes them. This is not a normal political party, however it tries to present itself.