Belfast (AP) – After another night of violent riots in the Northern Ireland capital, Belfast, the government wanted to hold a special meeting in the British part of the country. That made co-head of government Michelle O’Neill of the Sinn Fein party announced.
Northern Ireland is governed by a unity government made up of the two largest parties on the Protestant Unionist and Catholic Republican side. The regional parliament will also discuss the incidents, the Belfast Telegraph reported.
At least seven police officers were injured in riots that night, according to police. A public bus went up in flames. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was very concerned about the riots. In a Twitter message, he specifically condemned the attacks on officials, the driver of the burnt-out bus and a journalist. “Those involved in violence, property damage, incitement to youth and attacks on the police must stop,” he wrote.
Night riots have been going on for days in the British province of Northern Ireland, injuring dozens of police officers. They were pelted with stones, incendiary bombs and fireworks. According to the security authorities, behind this are partly militant Protestant-loyalist groups that are also active in the drug trade.
The alleged reason for the riots is the decision of law enforcement authorities not to prosecute senior politicians from the Catholic-Republican Sinn Fein Party for violating Corona rules after attending the grand funeral of a former IRA terrorist.
Northern Ireland’s special status, as defined in the Brexit agreement, also met with opposition from parts of the Protestant camp. The British part of the country has de facto remained part of the EU trading area to avoid goods controls at the border with the EU Member State Republic of Ireland. Instead, controls now have to take place at ports when goods enter Northern Ireland from other parts of the UK.
In the Northern Ireland conflict, which only ended with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, for decades a majority of Protestant supporters of the union with Great Britain and predominantly Catholic supporters of the unification of the two parts of Ireland faced each other. The police and the British army were also involved in the conflict. More than 3,600 people died and nearly 50,000 were injured. Society is still deeply divided.