Belfast gears up for another night of turmoil

Belfast was set for another night of unrest on Friday night as police clashed with a small group that lit at least one petrol bomb and set fire to trash cans, carts and a car in Loyalist Tiger’s Bay.

Leaders of loyalist and nationalist communities called for calm earlier today after police on Thursday night brought in water cannon in the streets from Belfast for the first time in six years.

They were deployed to defuse loyalist protests against Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit relationship with the UK and the EU, which in effect created a trade border in the Irish Sea and threatened the sealed peace. by the Good Friday agreement 23 years ago.

Protests scheduled for Friday night were called off as a token of respect or respect for Prince Philip’s death, but as night fell, small groups spread through the streets of north Belfast and a police helicopter took over shot above.

“We ask for calm in the area and ask anyone who has any influence in the communities, please use that influence to make sure that young people are not caught up in crime and that they are are being kept safe and secure tonight, ”Chief Superintendent Muir Clark of the Northern Ireland Police Service said on Twitter around 9:30 pm Friday evening.

A sign calling for the suspension of all loyalist demonstrations as a sign of respect after the death of Prince Phillip © Paul McErlane / FT

Onlookers said at least one petrol bomb was set off in Loyalist Tiger’s Bay, north Belfast, which borders the Nationalist neighborhood of New Lodge. The Financial Times saw small groups of men wearing balaclavas running towards reporters with large wheelie bins which were then set on fire. More than 10 PSNI armored Land Rovers arrived at the scene and police in riot gear set up barricades between Tiger’s Bay and North Lodge.

At 9:30 p.m., stones and bottles were thrown at police as smoke rose, sirens sounded and dogs barked. The action later moved to New Lodge, where a group comprising very young teenagers threw wagons and stones at the PSNI vans, which pushed towards them and then retreated. Most were men; some wore shorts despite the freezing cold.

Residents watched the action from six cars parked at the back of a retail park separated from New Lodge by high railings. “It’s like Netflix,” said a man in his 60s, adding that he had spent the previous nights watching the American crime drama. Quantico. Some brought snacks.

“It’s not new, we’re used to it,” said a woman who has lived at North Lodge her entire life. She said the Friday night group was older than the young people who had demonstrated there earlier in the week.

“It was so quiet here for a few years, and then that. . . it’s terrible, ”she said, describing how all residents had to move their cars every night for fear of damage. Her elderly father who lives with her watched from inside the house as small crowds continued to gather, briefly startled by a firecracker.

In the Catholic neighborhood of Alliance Avenue, a young single mother described how she and her child were among those who had to evacuate their home after a suspicious device was found in their path. The road was closed for several hours and then reopened.

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