September 15, 2005
Despite the IRAs commitment to a truce and ultimate disarmament in July, the Troubles in Northern Ireland Ulster continue. Violence-prone Protestant extremists, largely ignored by the British government during the decades long civil unrest in the region, have become increasingly active as the IRA has agreed to seek a peaceful settlement. In particular, Northern Irelands principal Protestant underground groups, the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defense Association, have been raising the level of violence of late.
September has historically been a particularly bad month for Protestant violence in Ulster. During September chapters of the extremist Orange Order conduct marches to commemorate Protestant king William IIIs victory over a Catholic army in 1690, which made northern Ireland safe for many Protestant migrants from England and Scotland. As in previous years, the Orangemen are attempting to march through Catholic neighborhoods. The British government, having decided to stop favoring the Protestant faction, have deployed police and troops to prevent such marches, and the result is that rioting broke out on September 10th and has continued for several days.
Protestant mobs ranging in the hundreds have been rampaging in the streets, attacking motorists, hi-jacking buses to rob the passengers, and so forth. Clashes with security forces have been frequent. The police and troops, to the number of about 2,000, have been using rubber bullets and water cannon in an effort to control the mobs, and suffered about 60 injured, with unknown number of innocent civilian by-standers injured as well. Casualties among the rioters are unclear. Most of the injuries have been due to thrown rocks or rubbish. However, in a development that British security officials find very disturbing, about 40 gasoline bombs have been employed, and there have been a several instances of gunfire, including automatic weapons fire. Several of the injured have gunshot wounds. Police have made about 20 arrests.
The Protestants claim that Catholics are being given everything. They also assert that the IRA isnt really committed to disarmament, which, given Protestant extremist tendencies, would seem a reasonable precaution.
Both the IRA and Unionist groups have also evolved from rebels into gangsters. The recent Unionist violence was also a cover for many purely criminal acts. The IRA and Unionist gangs control the growing drug trade in Northern Ireland, and have taken over most of the usual criminal activities (prostitution, loan sharking, hijacking, bank robbery, and so on). Thus the Unionists believe that the IRA peace deal will cause the police to leave the IRA gangs alone, and concentrate on the Unionist ones, if only to encourage the IRA to keep the political peace. The Unionist political violence is a reminder to the police that the Unionists deserve a little consideration as well.