Further night of disorder in Northern Ireland condemned

Rebecca Black, PA
·3-min read

There has been condemnation following a further night of disorder in Northern Ireland.

Police came under attack in Newtownabbey on the outskirts of Belfast on Saturday after violent scenes in the Sandy Row area in the city as well as Londonderry on Friday.

Police said it was the fifth consecutive night of disorder in Derry on Friday where 12 officers were injured by a large group of youths and young adults throwing masonry, bottles, petrol bombs and fireworks.

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Some 27 police officers were injured on Friday night across Belfast and Derry.

In Newtownabbey on Saturday a number of cars were hijacked and set on fire in the O’Neill/Doagh Road area.

Officers on the scene were attacked with petrol bombs and fireworks.

Alliance Party MLA John Blair condemned the violence and called for calm.

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“This is to be utterly condemned and has happened at this location, for different reasons, previously.

“A need for calm and for parents to check where their children are,” he said.

On the same night, a security alert in Larne, Co Antrim was declared to be a hoax.

The scenes come amid tensions within loyalism across Northern Ireland.

Loyalists and unionists are angry about post-Brexit trading arrangements which they claim have created barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Tensions ramped up further this week following a controversial decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Fein politicians for attending a large-scale republican funeral during Covid-19 restrictions.

All the main unionist parties have demanded the resignation of PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne, claiming he has lost the confidence of their community.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and other unionist parties have condemned the violence.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly claimed the disturbances were “a direct consequence of the actions of political unionism”.

“The disturbances in loyalist areas across the north are an outworking of the DUP’s rhetoric and undermining of the PSNI and criminal justice system,” he said.

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

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

Meanwhile seven people have been charged with riot after the disturbances in the Sandy Row area.

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

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

Three teenagers, aged 17, 14 and 13, have also been charged with riot.

They are due to appear at Belfast Youth Court on April 30.

As is normal procedure, all charges will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service.

An eighth person arrested in connection with the unrest on Friday night, a man aged 19, has been released on police bail pending further inquiries.