British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for calm in Northern Ireland on Wednesday evening after a group of youths hijacked and set fire to a bus in a pro-British part of the Northern Irish capital of Belfast. The rioters also attacked the police.
Wednesday’s disturbances are the latest in a series that started last week. The pro-British community in Northern Ireland is rage over new trade barriers with the rest of the UK as a result of Brexit.
The pro-British political party DUP is also upset about a police decision not to prosecute the Irish nationalist organization Sinn Féin after a well-attended funeral that failed to abide by corona rules last year. Sinn Féin, once affiliated with the Irish nationalist movement IRA, accuses the DUP of further exacerbating tensions in Northern Ireland with opposition to the new trade deals.
Northern Ireland police say the violence of the last days has been driven by “criminal elements” who are said to fuel the attacks. Wednesday’s riots took place off Shankill Road, near a wall separating a traditionally pro-British neighborhood from a pro-Irish neighborhood.
Johnson says he is concerned about the situation
The wall and many dividing gates in Belfast were built during the decades of sectarian violence that ended with the 1998 Good Friday Accords. “I am deeply concerned about the violence in Northern Ireland,” writes Johnson Twitter. “Disputes are solved through dialogue, not violence or crime.”
Both the leaders of the DUP and those of Sinn Féin have condemned the violence of recent days. However, in the same tweet in which she condemned the pro-British youth for the vandalistic actions, DUP leader Arlene Foster also points out to Sinn Féin, according to her “the real lawbreakers”.