Ireland Cools Down Too Late

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland: After the weekend's attempts at compromise failed, Protestants marched down along Lower Ormeau road in Belfast without incident Monday, indicating that tempers in Northern Ireland may be cooling at last. But if either side was hoping for a clear conscience, they were 24 hours too late. Richard, Mark and Jason Quinn, aged ten, nine and seven -– Roman Catholics who lived with their mother and her Protestant boyfriend -- were killed Sunday night in a firebombing of their house by suspected anti-Catholic sectarians. And although the Orange protesters at Portadown (who still refuse to give up their march down Garvaghy Road) expressed grief over the killings, it is on their shoulders that blame is beginning to fall.

"It remains somewhat disingenuous for the Orangemen to disavow the violence that accompanies these protests," says TIME reporter Paul Connolly in Belfast. "They know full well what’s going to happen -– casualties are almost an inevitable result." David Trimble, Northern Ireland's Protestant first minister and an Orangeman himself, appealed to the protesters to leave their posts in the light of the tragedy. "The thing to do is to go home," he said Monday. "No road is worth these lives and to go down the Garvaghy Road today or tomorrow would be a hollow event after what has happened." But Trimble’s "brethren" reaffirmed their determination to stay put. As long as the rest of Belfast stays peaceful, the Orangemen may well be free to remain at Drumcree until next summer, when they’ll have a sad anniversary to contemplate indeed.