Northern Ireland sees three nights of violence as tensions mount

Joanna Estrada
April 6, 2021

A boy stands and looks on as flames and smoke rises behind him in Northern Ireland on April 3, 2021.

While in Derry, police have been subjected to sustained attacks across several nights in the last week in loyalist areas of the Waterside part of the city.

It comes after disorder in Newtownabbey on Saturday night, and rioting in the Sandy Row area of Belfast and Derry on Friday night.

"I would ask that anyone who has any influence in communities - whether parents, guardians, community or elected representatives - please, use that influence to ensure young people do not get caught up in criminality and that they are kept safe and away from harm".

The flareups come 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.

Groups of around 20 to 30 masked individuals set bins on fire, while police officers were attacked with petrol bombs when moving in to the area.

"I condemn the violence, I condemn those that orchestrate it, and I understand the sadness it is that there are some as young as 13 and 14 that were arrested for being involved in that".

Unionists are also angry at a police decision not to prosecute Sinn Fein politicians who attended the funeral of a former Irish Republican Army commander in June.

Main image: The scenes in Belfast on Friday night.

The main unionist parties have demanded the resignation of Northern Ireland's police chief over the controversy, claiming he has lost the confidence of their community. Police confirmed one officer was left with a leg injury.

Northern Ireland unrest
Rioters clash with police

The faction is believed to have been behind the disturbances in Newtownabbey on Saturday.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly claimed the disturbances were "a direct effect of the actions of political unionism".

"By their words and actions they have sent a very unsafe message to young people in loyalist areas", Gerry Kelly, a lawmaker from the pro-Irish Sinn Fein party, which shares power in the devolved government with the DUP, said in a statement.

'The DUP and political unionist leaders need to show leadership and end the incendiary rhetoric'.

"By their words and actions they have sent a very risky message to young people in loyalist areas".

Four adults - three men aged 25, 21 and 18 years old, and a woman, aged 19 - have been charged with riot.

Mr Beattie added that it was "quite clear" during the violent scenes that there were adults watching from the side of the road as the teenagers participated in the disturbances.

All four are due to appear at Belfast Magistrates' Court on April 30.

The injuries included burns, head wounds and a broken leg, resulting in the arrest and charging of seven people, two of them as young as 13 and 14.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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