Editorial - Smokescreens

The long overdue confirmation that loyalist paramilitaries are orchestrating the ongoing violence which began with the decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag will come as no surprise to anyone.

What is equally unsurprising is efforts by some within unionism to shift the focus away from the now daily loyalist violence to the threat posed by dissident republicans in an attempt to sidestep a difficult issue which requires real leadership in favour of the traditional, well rehearsed rhetoric of the past.

This, in many ways, encapsulates what many have identified as the most pressing problem in working class unionist and loyalist communities; disconnection from their political leaders.

For decades unionism has been characterised by what it is opposed to and has moved to a position where opposition to almost everything has become the default setting.

Unless the leadership of political unionism is willing to engage with its own grassroots base, in the same way it engages with nationalism and republicanism on a daily basis in the Assembly and in Council chambers across the North on a daily basis, then the disgraceful and regrettable scenes witnessed recently will continue.