Malachi O’Doherty reckons that most of the journalism around the loyalist rioting would fail the Orwell test for clarity in writing about politics. What puzzles him is how few have looked for a political motive behind the rioting. He wonders aloud whether it may simply be a controlled racking up of pressure on the British to draw the centre of gravity in the continuing peace process back towards Unionists:
The history of the UVF shows that they have been ruthless and indulgent sadists, responsible both for the bombings of Dublin and Monaghan in 1974 and for the grotesque Shankill Butcher killings. That doesn’t prove that they are stupid. Political operators often put barbarians to good use.
If a dispassionate analysis of the feasible outcomes of last week’s uprising suggests political outcomes that Loyalists are likely to be happy with then it is reasonable to infer that they had thought of them too before they ordered their gangs onto the streets last Saturday.
I can think of several conceivably attainable advantages the Loyalists might be working to but they depend on my cynical reading of the peace process. Many people still believe that the process is a tricky courtship between unionists and republicans leading, in time, to an amicable marriage. It is not. It is conflict by other means and it is a conflict which unionists are losing. Republicans have seen off their SDLP rivals and destroyed the Ulster Unionist party to face Ian Paisley’s DUP and neuter it too.