While 12-year-olds pelt police with petrol bombs in Londonderry, the British government still seems much more interested in what’s going on in Scotland, says Sherelle Jacobs in The Daily Telegraph. But No 10 needs to stop kidding itself: the resurrection of “old paranoias and ancient divisions” in Northern Ireland poses a much greater threat to the Union. “EU fundamentalism” is partly to blame. Brussels tried to impose a hard border in Ireland “at the height of the vaccine fiasco” and “stubbornly refuses” to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol (under which Northern Ireland remains part of the EU’s customs union, with checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea).
But much of the recent violence is down to pure emotion. Young loyalist hardline Protestants – born after the Good Friday Agreement – see the protocol “as a historic symbol of English betrayal”. They’re furious that Republicans were allowed to stage huge in-person funerals for IRA men in lockdown, and furious about increased border checks. And demographics may soon “turn an already toxic situation radioactive”: the 2021 census is expected to show a Catholic majority for the first time in the history of Northern Ireland. The government must stop burying its head in the sand. Unless it can work out a settlement, “either the Union becomes the price of Brexit, or Brexit becomes the price of the Union”.