Police attacked during fresh violence in Northern Ireland

World Saturday 10/April/2021 17:35 PM
By: DW
Police attacked during fresh violence in Northern Ireland

Appeals for calm from Ireland, the United States and the European Union have so far fallen on deaf ears in Northern Ireland as it endured its eighth night of violent unrest on Friday.

The Belfast Telegraph reported that Molotov cocktails, bricks and other items were thrown at police in the Tiger's Bay area in the north of the city, while several bins and a car were set on fire.

A large number of police vehicles gathered with officers in riot gear and police dogs.

Local media also reported that stones were thrown at police in the nearby New Lodge area.

Police urged the public to avoid the scene, whilst also calling for calm.

Marches halted due to Prince Philip's death

The most significant unrest in recent years in the British-ruled province has mainly stemmed from its pro-UK unionist contingent, angry over apparent economic hardship due to Brexit and building on existing tensions with pro-Irish nationalist communities.

On Friday, marches had been planned in unionist communities in Belfast — but they were canceled after hearing that Prince Philip had died.

A hastily erected placard in one unionist neighborhood said that "protests are postponed as a mark of respect to the Queen and the Royal Family."

The placard promised "opposition" to the consequences of Brexit "and all the other injustices" would continue "after a period of mourning."

Crowds of hooded youths and young men have taken to the streets nightly since the beginning of the month, injuring at least 55 police officers and setting fire to a moving bus earlier this week.

Escalation fears

Concerns arose that the lull in violence may only be temporary after a man living in the unionist community in Belfast showed news agency AFP a message in circulation calling for "a major escalation over the weekend."

"I'm worried about the weekend ahead," said Michelle O'Neill, Northern Ireland's deputy first minister and leader of nationalist party Sinn Fein, to reporters on Friday.

"I do think it's really incumbent upon us all to be very conscious of the fact that we need to be respectful of each other."

The UK's Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has met officials, including unionist First Minister Arlene Foster and O'Neill, in Belfast — but political appeals have so far failed to stymie the unrest.