How will we remember these days of marching madness and what will we learn from them?
Who on the unionist side is big enough to stand up to the Loyal Orders and the loyalists, and tell them that the days of marching where you want, when you want, are over?
Of course, there are questions too for republicans and the police;
For republicans about how they present themselves on the march, what they wear, what they play and what they carry.
There should be no place in any parade for wooden weapons.
The real guns fired by all sides left scars that will never be healed.
That is the real story of our past, and the message of the peace process should be that there is nothing romantic about war or conflict.
On radio earlier this week, I said no parade should happen – republican, loyalist or other – where there is a possibility of causing offence.
There are also questions and challenges for the police – for new policing and for the PSNI.
The RUC buckled on this issue in the 1990s, cracked under threat and pressure – particularly in the decisions it made at Drumcree in 1996 and 1997.
There can be no repeat of that era.
In recent days police officers have taken a real battering; pelted with bricks and petrol bombs on a frontline in north Belfast.
More trenches were dug there on another battlefield and in another dangerous play of the parading game.
It is something that is being orchestrated to create a crisis in the hope that the Parades Commission will crumble.
That is the plan; and the violence of recent days is only part of the story, something that fits into a wider context, and it is this wider context that has to be analysed to identify who is at play and for what purpose.
So, there was some surprise – indeed anger – at a police assessment given on Tuesday.
Then, assistant chief constable Will Kerr said there was “no evidence to suggest that the UVF or any other loyalist paramilitary group is officially or actively orchestrating the violence”.
The senior police officer, including in an interview for this website, separated two things – loyalist paramilitary involvement from paramilitary leadership sanction.
“Nonsense,” was the response from a senior Belfast republican.
“There is no logic to it [the police assessment],” he continued, and he said it had the potential to damage police credibility.
A senior loyalist was much more blunt: “The peelers have no b***s,” he snapped, suggesting the assessment had more to do with “community impact” than the reality on the ground.
In other words to blame an organisation might make things worse.
The police would obviously reject that criticism, but there is a gap between what Chief Supt George Clarke said on Monday and ACC Kerr said on Tuesday; a gap also between what the police are saying and the assessments of many others.
Clarke, describing Sunday’s events in north Belfast when 47 of his officers were injured, said:
“The violence did come from both sides of the community but initially, certainly, it came from within loyalism. There was clearly orchestration. There’s no doubt about that.”
So, who was it, if it was not the UVF or any other loyalist paramilitary group?
Inside the Shankill community, paramilitary organisations still rule with an iron fist.
If they were not behind the violence and wanted it stopped they would have the numbers and authority to switch it off instantly.
Indeed, there was an interesting comment in a piece written for the Belfast Telegraph on Wednesday (September 5) by my colleague Ivan Little.
Reporting on events in north Belfast on Tuesday evening, he wrote: “In a quiet corner, a loyalist youth told me the UVF, who have denied orchestrating the trouble, had put the word out that there’s to be no repeat of Sunday and Monday’s violence.”
Up until then, the UVF had been under a bright spotlight; accused by republicans, loyalists and others of pulling the strings in the background.
So, with a few words were they able to switch the violence off, switch it off having had nothing to do with switching it on?
Is this what we are meant to believe?
There is another question.
What is leadership sanction?
Did the UVF on the Newtownards Road consult the brigade or command staff before attacking the Short Strand last year?
Did the UVF on the Shankill convene a meeting of the brigade or command staff before shooting Bobby Moffett?
Did the UVF in south Belfast seek leadership approval before placing bombs outside houses in the Falls district?
Probably not is the answer to all of the above, but the UVF was still responsible.
No one should be splitting hairs.
Sunday’s protest in north Belfast which ended in violence did not just happen.
It was organised.
Indeed, there is a suggestion from loyalists that a text message was circulated, and what happens when you bring people out onto the streets in numbers?
What happens is what happened on Sunday.
But this was building long before then.
There are other questions that need answers.
Who decided the Young Conway Volunteers band would march Saturday week ago against the ruling of the Parades Commission and that other loyalist bands would breach the ruling also?
What is meant by these words?
“There will be no more acceptance of the double standards being applied against Protestant heritage. Those days have gone.”
The parades issue is, in a very deliberate way, being stirred up and loyalists are one part of an orchestra that clearly is being conducted.
To suggest otherwise is not credible.
This issue needs dialogue, needs political and community leadership, needs common sense and demands respect for all.
There should be no reward for those who think they can get their way using muscle and threat and numbers, and politicians need to think before they open their mouths.
Will Kerr is right when he says someone could end up dead.
I wonder who will accept responsibility if that happens.