NORTHERN Ireland should be thankful that the Easter disturbances which erupted in Deny and Lurgan were not even uglier and that similar violence did not break out elsewhere.
The cause of it all — as in so many other instances in Northern Ireland's troubled history — was provided by the parades and processions which the authorities allowed to take place. When a state of emergency still exists in the Six Counties, it is hard to understand why such public displays should be tolerated.
A complete ban on such processions is long overdue. Only the presence of British troops prevented the situation from degenerating into complete disorder. So long as troops are needed on Northern Ireland's soil, the luxury of such parades should be forfeited.
The parades themselves carry with them all the worst features of provincial prejudice which it was hoped that Northern Ireland was beginning to throw off.
The past year has at least shown some slight improvement. Mr. Chichester-Clark became Prime Minister at a moment of unprecedented crisis, and has piloted through some reforms despite die-hard opposition from certain Unionist circles.
The one-man, one-vote principle has been accepted, the B Specials have been disbanded, discrimination in public employment has been ended and a Central Housing Authority has been set up.
But there is a long way to go yet. The Special Powers Act remains in force, and will not be removed until there is "peace." The weekend events have proved that such peace is still far away and depends on the presence of British troops for its precarious preservation.
Peace of a true and lasting nature awaits the = full establishment of justice. It is a vicious
• circle, since the absence of such justice pro = yokes breaches of the peace, particularly with = added and unnecessary provocation of partisan parades.
De-laced & de-braced
THE element of the ridiculous is never far below the surface of most public demonstrations. It can even take the form of tragicomedy, as happened with the down-and-outs who were told to move on last weekend from outside Buckingham Palace. They did not have the chance, after walking 120 miles, to unfurl their banner, but their protest about the raw deal accorded to tramps nevertheless received due attention.
At Southend, on the other hand, many of the rebels without a cause were de-laced, debraced and thoroughly debunked before they could do any real harm. Thanks to the resourcefulness of the police, fellow skinheads may well be deterred from attempting to terrorise a peaceful neighbourhood.
We all knew that a custard pie or a banana skin could dethrone a king. But it has taken the police to remind us that louts can temporarily lose their loutishness when there is a danger of their trousers falling down or losing a boot when they try to put it in.