Belfast Police Attacked By Rioters During Seventh Night Of Violence
Police officers in Belfast were attacked by rioters as Northern Ireland endured its seventh night of violent unrest.
Earlier this week, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts said the rioting was ‘at a scale we haven’t seen in Belfast or further afield in Northern Ireland for a number of years’, with more than 50 officers injured.
While politicians far and wide have been calling for calm, police once again clashed with rioters last night, April 8, amid a hail of stones and fireworks thrown by gangs of youths on the nationalist Springfield Road, close to where Wednesday’s events took place.
As reported by The Guardian, people were warned to ‘disperse immediately or the water cannon will be used’ and that ‘impact rounds will be fired’ if they didn’t comply. While water cannons were eventually used, it’s unknown whether the plastic bullets were fired last night, with six fired on Wednesday. Riot squads and police dogs were also used to charge rioters.
While the violence on Wednesday saw involvement from loyalists and nationalists along the peace wall that separates the unionist Shankill Road from the nationalist Springfield Road, it’s reported last night’s unrest came from nationalists alone, with activists attempting to block access to the gate of the peace line.
As per Sky News, Roberts said there were ‘upwards of 600 people present’, with some as young as 13 years old. ‘Young people were being encouraged to commit criminal acts by adults, who stood by clapping and encouraging the violence,’ he said.
Justice Minister Naomi Long tweeted, ‘More attacks on police, this time from nationalist youths. Utterly reckless and depressing to see more violence at interface areas tonight. My heart goes out to those living in the area who are living with this fear and disturbance. This needs to stop now before lives are lost.’
Deputy First Minister and Vice President of Sinn Fein Michelle O’Neill, said it’s a ‘miracle that, as we stand here today, no one has been killed’.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Micheál Martin have been in contact regarding the violence, with a statement from the Irish government saying ‘the way forward is through dialogue and working the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement’.
A number of factors have been attributed to the riots, most notably Brexit tensions, alleged countrywide bias against loyalists and the lack of prosecution for Sinn Fein politicians accused of breaching COVID-19 politicians by attending the funeral of former IRA leader Bobby Storey.
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