Editorial - Following blindly

People blocking roads, throwing petrol bombs and terrifying motorists have dominated the headlines in recent weeks.

Pictures of thuggery and intimidation have been beamed across the world, damaging the image and reputation of this part of the world.

Such scenes have become common in loyalist areas of Belfast and other towns across the North since the beginning of December but thankfully Derry has remained comparatively peaceful.

However, on Saturday evening these scenes were brought to Derry, not as part of any protest, but in a display of sheer lawlessness.

Crowds of young people gathered in the Bogside area intent on causing disruption simply for the sake of it. They attempted to block the road and, much worse, risked the lives of a family by throwing a petrol bomb at a passing car.

The apparent ease with which loyalist demonstrators can block roads and flout the law, often without consequence, may be sending out a dangerous message but it must be remembered that the scenes witnessed in Derry had nothing to do with the ongoing flag dispute.

While the flag protestors may point to spurious political arguments to justify their actions, there can be absolutely no justification for young people in nationalist areas following suit and bringing destruction to their own communities.

Like those who routinely cause trouble by building bonfires, it is simply aping the worst excesses of lawlessness and should be treated as the crime it is.