Pockets of unrest flare up in North despite call for calm after royal death

ireland
Pockets Of Unrest Flare Up In North Despite Call For Calm After Royal Death
Northern Ireland unrest, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By James Ward, PA

Leaders in Northern Ireland are fearful the chaos that has plagued the region in recent days will continue into the weekend.

Loyalists have urged their communities to desist from protest activity as a mark of respect for Britain's Prince Philip, who died on Friday.

Despite this, there were small pockets of unrest continued in parts of the province last night.

Police were attacked with missiles and a car was set on fire at Tiger Bay, a loyalist area in north Belfast with riot vans and police dogs in tow.

PSNI Tactical Support Group officers in attendance at the Loyalist Nelson Drive Estate (Liam McBurney/PA)

Some officers came under attack, with missiles such as stones and bottles thrown at them, and reports of petrol bombs being used.

There was a heavy police presence in the area overnight, with reports that stones were also thrown at officers in the nearby nationalist area New Lodge.

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One eyewitness said: “The worst thing I saw was a car that was stolen from a nearby street and lit on fire.

“Then someone drove it and jumped out allowing the car to free wheel into the police barricade.

“Compared to previous nights, I wouldn’t say it was any more violent than the past few nights.

“There was plans for protests across the city but they were called off due to Prince Philip’s death.

“However it seemed a crowd gathered at Tiger Bay and then trouble ensued. Youths were seen to been thrown masonry and petrol bombs.”

PSNI Chief Superintendent Muir Clarke said: “We would appeal for calm in the area and ask anyone who has any influence in communities, please use that influence to ensure young people do not get caught up in criminality and that they are kept safe and away from harm tonight.”

'Mark of respect'

There were sporadic incidents of unrest in Northern Ireland on Friday evening, with reports of a road blocked off with a barricade which was then set alight in Coleraine, Derry.

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Local SDLP MLA Cara Hunter said: “The last thing people in this community want is further disruption. I understand that tensions are running high but resorting to this kind of behaviour only damages local people and services.

“The crowd burning refuse, blocking roads and intimidating people in this community needs to stop. They need to go home and let people get on with their lives.

“This is a time for calm. Things don’t need to escalate. Young people don’t need to end up with criminal convictions. I’m appealing for everyone to exercise their influence to reduce tensions in our community.”

Loyalist leaders had urged the community not to participate in protests on Friday after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

The continued opposition to the NI protocol and all other injustices against the PUL community will take place again after the period of mourning

Signs posted in Lanark Way, the scene of much of the unrest of recent days, read: “We would ask all PUL (Protestant, Unionist, Loyalist) protests are postponed as a mark of respect to the Queen and the Royal Family.

“The continued opposition to the NI protocol and all other injustices against the PUL community will take place again after the period of mourning.”

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Meanwhile, two men are due to appear in court on Saturday after being charged in connection with the rioting that took place in Lanark Way, west Belfast on Thursday night.

Detectives investigating the disorder have charged a 24-year-old man and a 32-year-old man with riot.

The 32-year-old was also charged with possession of a petrol bomb in suspicious circumstances.

They are due to appear before Belfast Magistrates’ Court at around 10.30am.

As is usual procedure, all charges will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service.

A sign in Belfast calling for the postponement of ongoing protest as a mark of respect (Brian Lawless/PA)

Earlier, deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill voiced her concern that the violence of recent days will continue throughout the weekend.

The Sinn Féin vice president said: “I’m worried about the weekend ahead. We all need to be very careful and very consciously try to do all we can to prevent this happening.

“I hope and I urge all young people to not engage, do not allow yourself to be used or manipulated in any sort of way, and to stay off the streets, stay home and stay safe.”

She added: “I think there’s a strong role here for the two governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. I made that point to (Secretary of State) Brandon Lewis this morning.

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“It’s really, really important that we stand shoulder to shoulder and say no to this type of criminal behaviour, and that we don’t allow our children to be sucked in by criminal gangs who are orchestrating some of what we see on our streets.”

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