Interesting take on the spate of rioting in Derry that’s been going on for three days now on Morning Ireland. A local journalist tells RTE that no one local knows what it’s all been about or what sparked it.
The preliminary target appears to have been the tiny Protestant enclave on the city side of the River Foyle, and according to the BBC, Sinn Fein MLA Karen Mullan said she believes dissident republicans have been orchestrating recent attacks:
“Our youth workers had to leave the area late last night for their own safety. Things got worse and the crowd has also got older.”
Interesting context. However more striking is that the rioters used petrol bombs (something almost unheard of in the last 20 years). Only three where sent into the Fountain, the bulk was reserved for the cops when they turned up.
It is precisely the sort of recreational violence that was once commonplace in areas like the Bogside even right down to setting up distraction in order to entrap the police.
There will, of course, be other triggers for this local run of violence. These are boys growing up in a working-class part of a city which has seen relatively few returns from any peace dividend.
Hot summers don’t help either.
And then, hidden in plain sight, right at the heart of the modern Bogside community, is this same locally perfected method lionised in one of the most striking three-story murals in the city: Petrol Bomber.
No one can really argue with the artistic merit of the piece. Along with its companion artworks, it attracts many visitors every year. But the message to local kids is hardly ambivalent: street violence is a heroic act.
It is another symptom of how NI politics generally is failing another generation and sending the none too subtle message that democratic overseen civil authority has no dominion over the always unaccountable authority of “the community”.
Not dissimilar, in a way to how Loyalist communities are “asked” to endure the building of mega bonfires, regardless of the freedom, safety and wishes of local citizens who simply wish to live their law-abiding, neighbour respecting lives in peace.
That a young female SF MLA is now signalling that they and her own youth workers have become victims of this sort of willful behaviour, perhaps it is time to dump this widespread glorification of the worst aspects of the conflict?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty