Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government set aside factional differences on Thursday to call for calm after more than a week of nighttime violence partly fueled by frustration among pro-UK trade unionists over post trade barriers -Brexit.
Hundreds of young people in the UK’s provincial capital Belfast set a hijacked bus on fire and attacked police with stones on Wednesday in scenes reviving memories of decades of sectarian strife that killed some 3,600 people before a 1998 peace accord.
The latest violence injured 55 police officers and saw 13-year-old boys and 14 arrested for rioting.
“We are gravely concerned about the scenes we have all witnessed on our streets,” said the Binding Coalition, led by rival pro-Irish Catholic nationalists and pro-British Protestant trade unionists.
“Although our political positions are very different on many issues, we are all united in our support for law and order and we collectively declare our support for the maintenance of order,” the statement added.
The violence comes amid growing frustration among many members of the pro-British Unionist community at the new trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom resulting from Britain’s exit from the United Kingdom. ‘European Union.
The British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has also highlighted the police decision not to prosecute Irish nationalists Sinn Fein over a large burial last year which violated COVID-19 regulations.
Sinn Fein in turn accused the DUP of fueling tensions with its staunch opposition to the new trade deals and a call in recent days for the region’s police chief to resign.
The Northern Ireland Police Service said part of the violence was influenced by “criminal elements” who helped orchestrate the attacks.
Wednesday’s violence took place near Shankill Road, west Belfast, near a so-called ‘peace wall’ that separates the community from the Irish nationalist stronghold of Falls Road, where groups of young people hang out. are also gathered.
Walls and fences were built between the two communities to avoid clashes during three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland that largely ended in a 1998 peace deal.
Leaders of Northern Ireland’s biggest political parties Sinn Fein and DUP have both condemned the violence, particularly pointing to the hijacking of buses and the attack on a photojournalist with the Belfast Telegraph newspaper.
“These actions do not represent unionism or loyalty. They are embarrassing for Northern Ireland, “DUP chief Arlene Foster wrote in a Twitter post which then described Sinn Fein’s rivals as” the real law breakers. “