Tough love.

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The late Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich argued the IRA campaign of violence was wrong because it divided communities.

He used an easily understood analogy.
He put forward the thesis that attacking your neighbour’s home every weekend after getting drunk was unlikely to keep you on the christmas party invitation list.

This analogy may be a little simple but none the less profound.

North Belfast has witnessed another splurge of rioting and destruction primarily at the shops in Ardoyne.

A lot of nationalists in that area simply do not want Orangemen parading along and close to catholic homes.

The Orangemen take the view they have every right to walk the ‘queen’s highway.’

This standoff will guarantee that 2011 and all ensuing Twelfths will mirror image of what we have just witnessed, ugliness being beamed around the world.

So where does all this leave us ?

ACC Alistair Finlay is in the eye of the storm because he dared to ask what the First and deputy first ministers had done to prevent what happened or what they were doing in a united way to demonstrate their opposition to this bout of viciousness?

Peter Robinson branded ‘unacceptable’ this observation by ACC Finlay. He is now going to raise Alistair Finlay’s remarks with Chief Constable Matt Baggott.

Mr. Finlay’s utterance may well have resonated with more people than Mr Robinson thinks.

The Twelfth didn’t suddenly steal up on us. It is a constant in the calendar. The politicians had a full year to take a long hard look at potentially what would rear its ugly head at Ardoyne. Did we witness an urgency to obviate what we saw in North Belfast over the past six months to a year. The answer is no.

We heard talk of dumping the parades commission after Hillsborough.

How many hours were devoted to cracking the parades issue from last year?

The First and deputy first ministers should dwell a little on what Alistair Finlay said.
This was tough love.
We all deserve it at times. The parades demand big leadership.

Peter Robinson and Martin Mc Guinness have shown themselves capable of big leadership on Policing and Justice perceived to be correspondingly intractable. They overcame all difficulties with assistance of the two governments. If the question of parades necessitates additional support let us have it.
Northern Ireland plc cannot have a repeat of these disgraceful scenes in twelve months time.

[This article originally appeared on Slugger O’Toole]

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I am a regular contributor to discussion programmes on TV and radio both at home and abroad. An experienced political editor and author specialising in Politics, Security and 20th Century Art.

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