Violence breaks out on Northern Ireland streets again despite appeals for calm

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Car set on fire in Derry/Londonderry.

Q Radio News/PA

Violence has broken out on the streets of Northern Ireland again, despite appeals for calm.

A car was set alight in the Waterside area of Derry/Londonderry, while there were also reports of violent incidents in Carrickfergus, near Belfast on Monday night.

Both locations have been the scene of violence and unrest among the loyalist communities in recent days.

Former DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly, now a special adviser to First Minister Arlene Foster, urged those involved in the incidents in Carrickfergus to stop.

She tweeted: “Emotions can run high and frustrations deep, but injury, arrest and prosecution will blight your life forever.

“We believe in the rule of law, break it and there are rightful consequences. Get home, be safe and make your genuine concerns heard in democratic and non-violent ways.”

In Carrickfergus, a crowd of young people gathered in the North Road area and lit a fire in the middle of the road.

Petrol bombs were sporadically thrown at police, according to witnesses.

Earlier, the PSNI had appealed to community leaders to put a stop to the disorder that has taken place throughout much of the last week.

Throughout Monday afternoon, masked loyalist bands marched through the streets in towns across the region, including Portadown, Ballymena and Markethill.

The PSNI is investigating those marches, which appear not to have been notified to the Parades Commission.

Also on Monday night, police were attacked during a security alert in a nationalist area of Derry/Londonderry, with some young children involved:

It follows a turbulent week of events in Northern Ireland, as loyalist tensions simmered over into violence.

Five police officers sustained injuries after being pelted with petrol bombs and masonry in Newtownabbey and Carrickfergus on Sunday night.

It brings the total number of police injured in incidents in the North West and Belfast over the Easter weekend to 32.

Petrol bombs were thrown at PSNI officers and bins and pallets set on fire in disturbing scenes in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry in recent days.

Speaking earlier on Monday, PSNI Chief Superintendent Davy Beck said police stand ready for another night of unrest, but urged community leaders to put a stop to it.

He said: “Right now as we speak, my officers are in those areas, they’re working hard to provide those police services. Be that in respect of crime, be that in terms of road safety, be that in terms of others concerns in the community.

“We’re there and we’re doing that. I will have additional resources available to me and we will respond to whatever may develop.

“But there’s an opportunity to stop this. This doesn’t have to be a third night of trouble in the Cloughfern and Newtownabbey/Carrickfergus area.

“I would encourage people with influence in those communities to put a stop to this.”

Chief Supt Beck said the attacks were “clearly orchestrated”.

He added: “I believe that there’s a small group of disaffected criminal elements that are clearly involved in influencing young people, and I would appeal to young people in those areas not to allow this to happen.”

“I think it’s also fair to say that there’s probably no coincidence to this. We have been successful in that area in respect on some of these criminal gangs.

“So I think that this perhaps has been a reaction from some of those people who are involved in criminality.”

Asked if he thought the South East Antrim UDA were behind the attacks, he replied: “As I said, I believe that this is a group of disaffected criminal gangs and we will investigate that.

“We will review all our footage. We will review all the information coming in, in terms of who has been involved.”

Chief Supt Beck said the PSNI will be engaging with the local community, councillors and representatives “to try and put a stop to this.”

On Monday night, a masked loyalist band marched through the streets of Portadown, playing drums and flutes and waving flags.

Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd condemned the march, which he said was intended to intimidate the local community.

He said: “Tonight’s so-called band parade in Portadown was led by masked men through the streets, reminiscent of the scenes recently in Pitt Park in East Belfast when a loyalist mob went on a rampage to intimidate families out of their homes.

“Irresponsible and dangerous sabre rattling and reckless rhetoric from Unionist politicians has seen tensions rise right across the community.”

Upper Bann DUP MP Carla Lockhart said Sinn Fein’s "arrogant disregard for the Covid regulations" is to blame for the political crisis.

Similar marches took place in Markethill and Ballymena throughout the day.

It raises questions as to whether these events were notified to the Parades Commission, as is required by law.

Children as young as 12 have been involved in some of the incidents that have taken place over the weekend, police said.

 

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