It has been another night of road riots in Northern Ireland.
In Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, three cars were hijacked and set on fire in the loyal ONeill / Doagh Road area on Saturday evening.
A large crowd of spectators gathered to watch the riots.
The Northern Ireland Police Service (PSNI) said Saturday night that they were responding to reports of disturbances at Cloughfern Roundabout in the ONeills Road area of Newtownabbey. A police van was targeted and the cars set on fire.
PSNI officers were attacked north of Belfast.
Some Loyalists and Trade Unions are angry about the post-Brexit trade deals which they claim have created barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Tensions escalated further following a controversial decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Fin politicians for attending the grand funeral of Republican Bobby Storey during Covid-19 restrictions.
All major union parties have demanded the resignation of PSNI police chief Simon Byrne, claiming he has lost the trust of their community over how police handled the large attendance at the Republican funeral Bobby Storeys.
The problems followed successive nights of street violence in Belfast and Derry.
The PSNI said Saturday that two boys, aged 13 and 14, were among eight people arrested in connection with the riots in the Sandy Row loyal area south of Belfast on Friday evening.
Three men aged 25, 21 and 18 and a 19-year-old woman have been charged with rioting.
The four will appear in Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Friday, April 30th. All charges will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service.
Three men aged 17, 14 and 13 have also been charged with rioting.
The three will appear in Belfast Youth Court, also on April 30th. The charges will also be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service.
A 19-year-old also arrested after the disorder Friday night has been released on bail with police pending further investigation.
Fifteen police officers were injured Friday night after being targeted on Sandy Row by a crowd of mostly young people throwing bottles, bricks and fireworks.
Heavy masonry, metal rods, fireworks and well covers were thrown at police.
Chief case officer Simon Walls said: “It’s a tragedy that every child, because let ‘s keep in mind a 13 – year – old is a young child, I think it’ s a tragedy that every child in Northern Ireland is sitting in a care kit this morning, and faces criminal investigation, opportunity to be charged and opportunity to face a criminal conviction.
Speaking at a news conference Saturday afternoon, he urged anyone who had influence in the faithful community to discourage youth from causing violence.
It should not happen … It is not the way to resolve tensions or arguments.
Meanwhile, 12 PSNI officers were injured in Derry on Friday night.
Derry City area chief and Strabane Supt Chief Darrin Jones said police received reports of youths gathering in the Nelson Drive and Tullyally areas.
Upon their arrival, they were attacked by a large group of young men and women throwing masonry, bottles, gasoline bombs and fireworks, he said.
As a result, 12 officers suffered injuries, including wounds to the head, legs and feet. Mr Jones also said a care home was damaged in the Nelson Drive area during the riots causing unspoken fear and concern among residents.
Northern Ireland’s first DUP minister Arlene Foster has urged young people not to get caught up in the mess over the Easter weekend, saying violence will not make things better.
She said: I know many of our young people are extremely irritated by the events of this past week, but causing injury to police officers will not make things better. And I send my strong support to all the police officers on duty this Easter weekend. I urge our young people not to be distracted by the disorders that will lead them to have criminal convictions and pollute their lives.
She also urged parents to play their part and be proactive in protecting their young adults.
Sinn Fin TD Eoin Broin said unionized and loyal political leaders needed to calm the situation in Northern Ireland and ensure that there would be no repetition of Friday night’s concerns.
Mr Broin said unionist politicians had raised rhetoric about the Northern Ireland protocol for several weeks and loyal organizations staging protests and then you have this street violence.
The real losers in this in the first instance are the young people who have now been arrested and will have criminal records, it is the communities in Sandy Row and the village that need to stand up today and clean up their community.
And then the political stability of what is a very precarious position at the minute in the North.
Asked by Katie Hannon on RT Radio One if Sinn Fin had done enough as a result of growing tensions following the decision not to prosecute Sinn Fin politicians for attending Mr Storey’s funeral during the Covid-19 restrictions, he replied : People got things wrong and I think Michelle [ONEILLS]the statement at the time made it very clear. But what also happened then were the people rightly then called for a PSNI investigation. A report was forwarded to the Public Prosecution Service. They have made their recommendations and their recommendations will not proceed with prosecution.
He said political leaders, including Sinn Fin, had to make sure they did everything they could to properly manage the public health message.
We all need to work together to calm the situation, especially in terms of how some unionists are using the protocol issue in very, very politically controversial ways. – PA
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