Editorial - The need to lead by example

The grim spectre of sectarianism is never far away in our society.

It reemerged in the city this week with a spate of disgraceful attacks on the Fountain estate by a small group of young people and children.

While there is never any justification for such displays of sectarianism, it is a certainty that those responsible - children born years after the end of the conflict - could offer no possible excuse or rationale for their mindless actions.

Let’s be abundantly clear: no one should be under any illusion that the attacks on homes in the Fountain close to the interface were motivated by politics or religion because clearly the people behind them have no understanding of, or respect for either. It is just thuggery for the sake of it.

It has been claimed that the children caught up in these incidents are being exploited by more sinister elements, a claim which may carry some weight as such elements have also demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of politics and religion in the past.

Everyone has a role to play in ensuring they do nothing to promote sectarian attitudes, even unwittingly.

The idea of playing the sectarian card to further a particular argument may seem appealing to some but in the long run it is irresponsible and only perpetuates the type of environment which gives rise to the unacceptable attacks witnessed along the interface this week.

Those in positions of civic leadership and responsibility should be promoting the idea of one unified city and community in Derry; not one divided by faith or ideology, or even physically by a river.

Condemnation after an event is one thing, providing an example every day is quite another. Although much harder it is necessary.