It is not hard finding the next riot spot in Northern Ireland. You can check Facebook or other social media platforms for locations and times. You can follow young people who visit petrol stations to fill up jerry cans. Or you can tag along with older people who gather, phones in hand, to watch and record the show.
One older woman came to Lanark Way off the Shankill Road on Wednesday in a coat and bathrobe for what promised to be a long, cold, eventful evening. “Not long now,” said a man to no one in particular.
The soon-to-be rioters were young males, many teenagers, dressed almost identically in dark fleeces and tracksuits. They made their preparations openly and with method, even swagger, conscious that they had an audience of several hundred people.
Some collected rocks from an adjacent wasteground, forming little piles on the pavement and stuffing the smaller rocks in pockets. Others pulled pallets from a pyramid of wood – a bonfire for the summer marching season – and…