Friday, 16 April, 2021

N Ireland leaders call for calm after night of rioting

Northern Ireland UK PM Johnson says deeply concerned by Northern Ireland violence
Cecil Davis | 08 April, 2021, 19:49

"Whether you are a political leader, whether you are a community leader, you have a responsibility now to ensure that 13 and 14-year-olds - and indeed people older than that - are not putting themselves in danger, but more importantly, are not involved in the kind of disgraceful scenes we saw last night, where buses were set on fire and where journalists were attacked - we need to be careful that this doesn't escalate any further", he told Newstalk Breakfast.

As SkyNews reported, more than 40 police officers were injured and nine people were detained since the outbreak of the new unrest. Police fired rubber bullets at the crowd, and nearby a city bus was hijacked and set on fire. He sent Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis to Belfast for talks with the region's political leaders.

It is "gravely concerned by the scenes we have all witnessed on our streets, including those (in west Belfast) last night", it said in a statement.

One of those who attended the funeral, along with around 2,000 other mourners, was the vice-president of republican party Sinn Féin and current Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill.

Northern Ireland's Belfast-based assembly and government held emergency meetings Thursday and called for an end to the violence.

In an interview with The Sunday Independent, Campbell claimed First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster had informed the LCC that collapsing the Executive was within her party's "thinking", but only in the event that all other paths to ditch the protocol had been exhausted.

He also said there were were "concerns in Northern Ireland about Brexit".

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the unrest, saying "the way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality".

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The violence comes amid growing frustration among many pro-British unionists at new post-Brexit trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom that many warned could be a trigger violent protests.

Authorities have accused outlawed paramilitary groups of inciting young people to cause mayhem. They expressed outrage that a new generation was being exposed to, and pulled into, violence.

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.

Both Britain and the European Union have expressed concerns about how the agreement is working, and the Democratic Unionist Party, which heads the Belfast government, wants it to be scrapped. But any long-term solution will require political commitment that appears in short supply.

The tension between the loyalist and nationalist communities is thought to have risen from the decision not to prosecute people who attended the large-scale funeral of a senior republican figure past year, despite the lockdown restrictions in place at the time.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts said several hundred people gathered on both sides of a gate in the wall, where "crowds. were committing serious criminal offences, both attacking police and attacking each other".

There are also tensions over the police's handling of alleged lockdown breaches by Sinn Fein at the funeral of republican Bobby Storey.

"It's really easy to see how it could get worse", she added.