Riots in N. Ireland continue as politicians urge calm

Rioters throw petrol bombs, fireworks stones at police in Belfast, police deployed water cannons to stop riots

Rabia İclal Turan   | 09.04.2021
Riots in N. Ireland continue as politicians urge calm


Northern Ireland saw another night of unrest as rioters hurled petrol bombs, fireworks and stones at police on Thursday, local media reported.

The police deployed water cannons to stop riots that have shaken Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, since Wednesday.

Both loyalist and nationalist areas were involved in riots in west Belfast.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish premier Taoiseach Micheal Martin on Thursday held a phone call, urging calm and stressing that violence was not acceptable.

The unrest started when some Sinn Fein members attended a crowded funeral on top of tensions caused by Brexit border arrangements, which brought checks on goods shipped between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The US is also concerned by violence in Northern Ireland, a White House spokeswoman said Thursday, one day after police officers were attacked and a public transport bus was set on fire in Belfast.

The unionist parties criticized the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Simon Byrne, for allowing such a gathering despite coronavirus restrictions and demanded his resignation.

Byrne said "the ongoing street disorder must stop.”

He wrote on Twitter that he was "open to dialogue with anyone who is willing to work with me to resolve the issues facing our community.”

"My message to those engaged in violence tonight is go home before someone is seriously injured. Violence is not the answer," he added.

Fragile peace

Northern Ireland is remembered for its decades-long sectarian violence and terrorism, which cost the lives of thousands until around 22 years ago.

The Troubles -- an era of conflict between the British government and pro-British paramilitaries on one side and Irish Republicans and nationalists on the other -- ended in 1998 when the Belfast Agreement put an end to decades of armed struggle in the divided UK region of Northern Ireland.

The UK and the Republic of Ireland signed the deal, brokered by the US and eight political parties in Northern Ireland, on April 10, 1998.

The deal, dubbed the Good Friday Agreement, largely saw the end of the Troubles-era violence, in which 3,500 people lost their lives.

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