Proposal for Stormont Assembly to be recalled over loyalist violence

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By Q Radio News

The Alliance Party leader has proposed a recall of the Stormont Assembly, following days of violence and disorder in parts of Northern Ireland.

Naomi Long has called for MLAs to debate a motion condemning the recent violence and attacks on police in loyalist areas.

The party will need the signatures of 30 MLAs for the Assembly to be recalled this week.

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon confirmed on Tuesday that the party will sign the motion.

It comes after police were attacked during another night of violence and disorder in a number of loyalist areas on Monday.

Further unrest swept across parts of Carrickfergus and Londonderry, with petrol bombs and other missiles thrown at officers.

In a statement, Ms Long said: “Now is the time for leadership, for the PSNI and rule of law to be supported and for every representative to show the leadership their mandate requires them to deliver.

“We are facing an extremely serious situation. Weeks of tensions from a number of issues, incited and encouraged by a number of people who really should know better, has brought us to this point.

“To the PSNI officers injured in the line of duty, to anyone who has suffered distress, loss and damage as a result of these incidents, I’m sorry the system has failed you.

“The violence has to stop, but so does the political cover given through vague comments and empty threats.

“There is no room for ambiguity – this violence must be condemned by a united Assembly, which fully supports the rule of law in Northern Ireland.

“Anything less is just allowing a culture of lawlessness to grow and further poison our community.”

Cars, a JCB digger and a phone box were set alight in the Waterside area of Londonderry on Monday.

Officers from the PSNI Tactical Support Group (TSG) attended the loyalist Nelson Drive Estate, where a group of youths clashed with police.

The surrounding roads were blocked with fires and barricades.

Elsewhere, petrol bombs were thrown at police officers in Carrickfergus, near Belfast.

A crowd of young people gathered in the North Road area and lit a fire in the middle of the street.

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 past week.

On Monday afternoon, groups of loyalists, some wearing masks, marched through the streets in towns across the region, including Portadown, Ballymena and Markethill.

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

Five officers were injured after police were pelted with petrol bombs and masonry in Newtownabbey and Carrickfergus, near Belfast, on Sunday night.

It takes the total number of police injured in incidents in Londonderry 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 in recent days.

On Monday night, masked loyalists marched through 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.

Children as young as 12 were involved in some of the incidents that took place over the weekend, police said.

Tensions have soared within the loyalist community in recent months over post-Brexit trading arrangements, which it is claimed have created barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Anger ramped up further last week following a decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Fein politicians for attending a large-scale republican funeral during Covid-19 restrictions.

All the main unionist parties have demanded the resignation of PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne, claiming he has lost the confidence of their community.

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