Many people have blamed Michael McDowell for this. Which of course they would.I mean he is the reason it rains so much in the country. But beyond the normal McDowell bashers. There is some valid points to be made.
1. Was it right to hold the march. 2. Was it right to have it go through a building site. 3. Were the Gardaí unprepared.
The answer to the first question is an resounding yes. People said that the parade should not have gone ahead as it would only lead to this sort of behaviour. But as George W would say you can not give into terrorism. And that is what the riots were terrorism. If something is right (and a persons right to march is) then you cannot give in to terrorism. If the Love Ulster parade was stopped or banned then we would have abandoned all things this country stands for all the things the founding fathers and mothers fought for. And paradoxically everything Republican Sinn Fein say they stand for.
On the question of should the march have been sent through a building site. Should the march have been diverted. O’Connell street is the main street, to deny them the right to march there sends out a very clear signal that they were being sidelined. If they had told them that they feared a riot. Then it would look like we expected that the march would not be tolerated. On the other hand public safety needs to be top of their agenda. But looking at the trouble on Nassau Street. It looks like this was going to happen where ever the march was held.
The Gardaí were not prepared for the scale of this. The rioting in Nassau street was happening without Gardaí presents. They had made a judgement call to protect the Dail.(The right one) The Gardaí are heros but the numbers in Dublin were not sufficient to control the situation. They should have drafted in more from the countryside. For the May day riots in 2004 the Gardai loaned a water cannon from the PSNI. Yet none was there today. Why not? On a cold day like today. The rioters would not have rioted for so long if they had been covered in ice cold water. Why was a water cannon not procured. It cost the Government €6000 to loan them last time. Compared to the damage caused, money lost to the economy and damage to Ireland image abroad for investors and tourists. €6000 is a miniscule sum. The riot were not entirely unpredictable. So water cannon vehicles should have been secured prior to this. Michael McDowell certainly has a case to answer on this.
But he is not to blame for the riot in the first place. The fact that they attacked the PD's offices show that McDowell is certainly getting to them which means he is not far off the mark with what he says. So who is to blame The blame for this lies sole at the feet of one group. Republican Sinn Fein (RSF). They were the only ones to oppose the march. The rest of the parties supported their right to march. Sinn Fein said ignore them. Saoirse the RSF paper said. “Saoirse calls on all Republicans to oppose the loyalist march due to take place through the centre of Dublin”
“The proposed loyalist march is very definitely part of a softening-up process for an Official Visit to Dublin by an English Queen claiming part of Ireland. The like has not been seen since Partition in 1921. And now, on the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, the siren voices tell Republicans to ignore this loyalist march. If we do, they will return with even greater insistence and tell us to ignore the state Visit of the Queen of England. In other words, to stay away, make no protest, and accept finally that the Six Occupied Counties belong to England. Is that what you want? NEVER.”This is very strong language clearly they saw this as a fight. This was organised. Rioters came with petrol. This was not spontaneous lads saying “feck it lets chuck a brick”. There is talk that some anarchist groups were evolved and reports of black flags in the crowd suggest that they did have some part in it. Also reported is that some RSF people seem to have tried to quieten the crowd down. Whether this is true or not is not the issue. RSF certainly provided the fuel (metaphorically speaking) for the rioting even if they didn’t light the match.
Ireland's image has taken a battering tourist numbers will be down, foreign companies may think twice about locating here. This could seriously damage us in the future. Another aspect of the riots. Is RTE’s failure to deliver on its public service remit. They go on about the need for licence fees and public service. And yet during the worst rioting in the last 20 years. RTE One had the Robe “An Oscar-winning biblical epic about a soldier who wins Jesus's robe” while RTE Radio had sports coverage. The only source of news was Newstalk and to a lesser extent BBC, breakingnews.ie and blogs. Clearly there was a desire for information that was not forthcoming from the rest of the media. I have never had as many visitors to my blog. People were desperate to know what happened and RTE was not telling them. But there is a more serious aspect to it. As Richard Delevan asks “If RTE 1 had gone away from sport for the afternoon, might some people have turned their cars around and stayed home today?” The answer is an undoubted yes. If someone had died in the riot. Someone that if RTE had been broadcasting about it would have gone home. Then RTE would have been to blame. They are the public service broadcaster. They have failed in servicing the public. Why they did this needs to be seriously examined and heads should roll.
The winners in this series of riots is not the rioters. They think that they have won. That they have stopped the march. That they have fought and won for their country. They could not be more wrong. They have lost, republicanism has lost, Ireland was lost. It is the very thing that they are fighting against loyalists that have won. The minute Jeffery Donalason said on RTE news . That people have been talking about giving Northern representation in the Dail and I can’t even talk outside the Dail. It was game set and match unionism.
No longer will Nationalist be able to say that the Unionist would be welcomed in the South. Because obviously they can say last time we came down to the South we were deigned our civil rights. Next time someone brings up the suppression of the civil rights marches in the North in the 60s and 70s. They will come back and say are civil right to march was also suppressed by the South. They will look at Ireland’s top reporter Charlie Bird being attacked and called an “orange bastard”. And say that the South would suppress unionists right to freedom of expression. They will look at the attack on the PD’s office and say they do not tolerate political parties that do not tow the republican line.
The prospects of a United Ireland or even cross border cooperation have been utterly shattered today. Recently it looked like the two governments were going to put pressure on the DUP to talk with Sinn Fein. That pressure will surely now dissipate. This just gives the DUP even more ammunition against the Irish state. They have been going after Mary McAlease for the past while. Trying to make a big deal out of nothing. Now they don’t even need to make a big deal out of anything. We are the ones that are going to do it. Jeffrey Donaldson said “"We have received a warm welcome from ordinary Dubliners, but its clear these republicans have come from north of the border and other areas intent only on causing trouble.” He can now say “Ich Bin ein Dubliner“ and the Irish people will feel guilty about this and quiet rightly too. The government are going to be far more conciliatory to the Unionist as an apology for the rioting and tougher on Nationalism. To all those rioters who are cheering themselves saying they got rid of the enemy know this you are cheering a victory for Unionism and a defeat for Ireland.
Picture From An Spailpín