It all looked sadly familiar. After a parade by Northern Ireland's Orange Order was diverted from a Catholic area, members and supporters of the Protestant brotherhood rioted. Over most of last week, cars were burned, blockades were erected and gunmen turned automatic weapons on police. Most people thought spectacles like this were a thing of the past.
The unionists' chief enemy, the I.R.A., announced in July that it was giving up its armed campaign and would dispose of all its weapons. Unionists claim the violence broke out because concessions to the I.R.A. had shown that violence pays. "I know there's this thing that violence has been rewarded," Peter Hain, Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary, told Time. "Actually, what has been rewarded is a switch from violence into democratic politics."
The unrest may have delayed the renewal of peace talks and given republicans cover to step up intimidation against the family of Robert McCartney, whose murder by I.R.A. members helped push the group into the July announcement. But the worst damage may have been done to unionism itself. Dawson Bailie, an Orange Order official, repeatedly told a press conference, "I condone violence," only to add that he meant to say "condemn."