Young northerners in a British area of Belfast on Wednesday night set fire to a hijacked bus and attacked police officers with stones. The riots are the latest in a series of attacks that began in the Northern Irish capital last week. The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, says he is “deeply concerned” about the violence.
Several officers have been injured in recent days, with protesters burning cars and throwing petrol bombs at police officers. The violence has erupted amid growing frustration among many Northern Ireland supporters of a close connection to the rest of Britain. Among other things, they are dissatisfied with new trade barriers that have arisen as a result of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
The pro-British Conservative party in the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has also pointed to a decision by police not to prosecute members of the nationalist party Sinn Fein for attending a major funeral last year that broke the covid-19 rules .
Conversely, Sinn Fein has blamed the DUP for escalating tensions with the party’s strong opposition to the new trade arrangements and calls in recent days for the region’s police chief to resign. According to Northern Ireland police, part of the past week’s violence has been influenced by ‘criminal elements’ who have helped plan the attacks.
Wednesday’s riots took place near Shankill Road in western Belfast near a so-called peace wall that separates the area from Falls Road, which is a nationalist stronghold. The wall was built between the two communities to prevent clashes over three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, which more or less stopped with a 1998 peace agreement.
‘I am deeply concerned about the scenes taking place in Northern Ireland, particularly the attacks on the PSNI (Northern Ireland Police, ed.), Which protect the public and businesses, the attack on a bus driver and the assault on a journalist. The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not through violence or crime, “wrote the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, on Twitter late Wednesday night.
Both the leaders of Sinn Fein and the DUP, Northern Ireland’s two largest parties, have condemned the violence.