British PM condemns latest Northern Ireland violence

Brandon Lewis

Condemnation of the violence was led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said the scenes "deeply concerned" him.

Others have attempted to characterise the violence on Brexit and Boris Johnson's failure to spell out the implications of the Northern Ireland Protocol and the trade disruption that has resulted in the wake of the transition period.

Meanwhile, MLAs had already been due to return to Assembly to discuss a motion condemning it the violence after more than 40 PSNI officers were injured in disorder over recent nights.

Between the lines: Many find the recent violence and tension in Northern Ireland concerning because they bring to mind 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland - the almost three decades of violence between Protestants and Catholics that killed more than 3,000 people and injured 50,000.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster labelled the scenes as "an embarrassment to Northern Ireland".

Police Service of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts said several hundred people gathered on both sides of a gate in the wall, where "crowds ... were committing serious criminal offences, both attacking police and attacking each other". Northern Ireland remains in the single market for goods and applies European Union customs rules at its ports, the protocol moved the regulatory and customs border to the Irish Sea, with a series of checks, and obligatory certifications now additionally required for many goods to be shipped into the region from other parts of Great Britain, causing dissatisfaction among loyalists in Northern Ireland, who feel it creates a border between them and the rest of the UK.

Unrest first broke out last week amid rising tensions relating to Brexit and unionist anger over a decision by police not to prosecute leaders of the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein for allegedly breaking coronavirus restrictions during the funeral of a former leading IRA figure.

The latest disturbances followed unrest over the Easter long weekend in unionist areas in and around Belfast and Londonderry, also known as Derry, that saw cars set on fire and projectiles and petrol bombs hurled at police officers.

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Mr Johnson said: "The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality".

Some politicians and police have accused outlawed paramilitary groups - which remain a force in working class communities - of inciting young people to cause mayhem.

Unionists says the new checks amount to a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. - something they fear undermines the region's place in the United Kingdom.

A new U.K. -EU trade deal has imposed customs and border checks on some goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. The arrangement was created to avoid checks between Northern Ireland and Ireland because an open Irish border has helped underpin the peace process built on the 1998 Good Friday accord. They expressed outrage that a new generation was being exposed to, and pulled into, violence.

"This is nothing short of child abuse", she said.

"And that's why we're focused on looking at how do we rebuild confidence in policing, and how do we deal with the issues around the Bobby Storey funeral - and secondly how do we deal with the issues related to the so-called border in the Irish Sea".

Regarding the bus attack in Belfast, she added in a subsequent post on Twitter: "This is not a protest".

They called for Northern Ireland's police chief to step down over the matter.

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