But now they’re on the streets throwing stones and bottles, burning buses and confronting the police.
Some of it, no doubt, whipped up by insidious paramilitary forces able to wind them up and tool them up. But it’s as much just anger at the hopelessness of their situation.
Their political leaders have failed and it’s not rioting for a purpose, nor even against anything in reality. Instead, it’s just a rage. It’s nihilism with nothing to be gained, just destroying whatever they can.
I feel sorry for them in many ways though nothing can condone their behaviour with the risks to life and the futile damage of property. Northern Ireland’s economy is a mess and that was before coronavirus. For many of these young people, it’ll be a life on benefits and already they’re marked out as failures in the education system, if they’re even still attending school.
But even the province they were born in and believed was their country is threatened. They don’t feel secure in their land, let alone having a future in it. The political leaders of the unionist tribe have been sold out by the British state they claimed to venerate, Boris Johnson flat out lying about “no border in the Irish Sea”. Even the DUP are now left with little idea about what to do.
A united Ireland draws closer. But Germany’s still trying to resolve issues brought about by unification. At least there it was something welcomed by all other than a few Communist die-hards.
A 32-county state burns deep in the soul of many in Ireland but there’s still a significant Protestant minority that will forever begrudge it.
Would the Republic even want the financial basket case that’s the six counties and could they cope with it? There’s challenged areas in the 26 counties already, such as Limerick. Would they welcome limited resources being pushed north?
It’s economic as much as constitutional and these kids need a future whether in Britain or Ireland.