Water cannon have been used on youths, some reportedly as young as ten, who have been throwing bottles and rocks at police in east Belfast. There have been five nights of often-violent protests now, all ostensibly over how often to fly the Unionist flag over City Hall, and the loyalist paramilitary UVF is accused of co-ordinating the violence.
Of course, the flag-flying isn’t really the cause of the protests. The root cause is that poor Protestant Loyalists in their east Belfast ghetto areas feel they got the comparitively lousy end of the deal from the end of the Troubles. They see themselves as losing relative status and wealth to poor Catholic Republicans in their own ghettoes: whereas historically they might have been poor and politically un-heeded they at least had a little more than their Catholic opposite numbers and now they feel that’s changing. The situation is analagous to that of poor Southern whites in the U.S. today, who while they were poor and lacked status could historically convince themselves they were at least a rung or two above Blacks. Exploding white men, in other words.