BELFAST STREET VIOLENCE: Executive to hold emergency meeting

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 8, 2021

Police officers in Northern Ireland on Monday confirmed that they had been attacked with petrol bombs and bricks in unrest which lasted for three consecutive nights.

The BBC's Ireland correspondent Emma Vardy said crowds of a few hundred people on each side were throwing petrol bombs in both directions.

The UK prime minister wrote on Twitter: "I am deeply concerned by the scenes of violence in Northern Ireland, especially attacks on PSNI who are protecting the public and businesses, attacks on a bus driver and the assault of a journalist". The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality.

The leaders of Northern Ireland's largest political parties Sinn Fein and the DUP both condemned the violence, pointing in particular to the bus hijacking and an attack on a photojournalist from the Belfast Telegraph newspaper.

And Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill tweeted that the "violence and street disorder" was causing "huge distress in local communities at this time".

The pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have also pointed to a decision by police not to prosecute Irish nationalists Sinn Fein for a large funeral a year ago that broke COVID-19 regulations.

The recent violence, largely in pro-British loyalist areas, has flared amid rising tensions over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland and worsening relations between the parties in the Protestant-Catholic power-sharing Belfast government.

Stormont Education Minister Peter Weir was responding to earlier comments from David Campbell, chairman of the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC), an umbrella group representing loyalist paramilitary groups.

"They are an embarrassment to Northern Ireland and only serve to take the focus off the real lawbreakers in Sinn Féin".

The Northern Ireland Policing Board was briefed on the violence and disturbances by Simon Byrne, the chief constable of the PSNI, on Wednesday.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said it was vital that more formal discussions resumed as soon as possible between European Union and United Kingdom officials.

In a statement, NIPB's chair, Doug Garrett, said it was "truly shocking that in a short space of time, 41 officers have sustained injuries" and said it was "undoubtedly concerning that so many young people have been drawn into the attacks on the police and the consequences that criminalisation may have for their lives".

Plans to recall the Assembly were already underway after Alliance Party leader Naomi Long secured the required support of 30 members to force a return.

It also calls for MLAs to "recognise that leadership comes with responsibility and recommits to upholding a culture of lawfulness in both actions and words".

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