By Jason Cairnduff
BELFAST (Reuters) – Crowds of youth in a pro-British area in Belfast set fire to a robbed bus and assaulted police with stone in the latest instance of a series of violent outbreaks that broke out at night. last week.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply concerned” about the violence that injured dozens of police in recent days as protesters burned cars and threw petrol bombs at police.
The violence came as many in the pro-UK community were increasingly frustrated by the new trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK that prompted Britain to leave the European Union.
The Pro-British Democratic Union Party (DUP) has also pointed out the police’s decision not to prosecute Sinn Fein under Irish nationalism because a massive funeral last year violated COVID-19 regulations.
In turn, Sinn Fein blamed the DUP for causing tension as they stubbornly oppose new trading deals and their calls in recent days to demand the regional sheriff’s resignation.
The Northern Ireland Police Agency said some of the violence had been affected by “criminal elements” who helped staging the attacks.
Wednesday’s violence took place near Shankill Road in western Belfast, near the so-called “wall of peace” separating the community from the Irish nationalist stronghold on Falls Road, where youth groups also gathered .
The walls and fences were built between the two communities to prevent clashes during three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, largely ending with a 1998 peace deal.
“I am deeply concerned about the violence scenes in Northern Ireland,” Johnson wrote in a Twitter post. “The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or crime.”
The leaders of Northern Ireland’s largest political parties Sinn Fein and the DUP both condemned violence, specifically pointing to the bus robbery and the Belfast Telegraph photojournalist attack.
“These actions do not represent unionism or loyalty. They are a shame for Northern Ireland,” DUP leader Arlene Foster wrote in a Twitter post describing rival Sinn Fein as “real law breakers.”
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