Rioters attacked dozens of police officers amid renewed unrest across Northern Ireland, where tensions are growing over Brexit and a UK-EU trade deal.
Footage from RT’s Ruptly video agency shows a group of people hurling petrol bombs at passing police trucks in the unionist town of Carrickfergus, near Belfast, on Monday night.
The rioters set up roadblocks and lit garbage containers on fire. A bottle that was used to make a Molotov cocktail can be seen lying on the grass.
Anger has been brewing in Northern Ireland after a post-Brexit UK-EU trade deal imposed customs and border checks on some goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Northern Ireland was effectively allowed to remain in the EU single market for goods in order to avoid the formation of a physical border between the region and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state.
People are also outraged that authorities declined to prosecute politicians from the pro-EU republican Sinn Fein party for attending the funeral of Bobby Storey, a former Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) fighter. The event drew around 2,000 people in Belfast last June, despite the fact a maximum of 30 were allowed to attend funerals under Covid-19 regulations.
According to UK media reports, anger towards police has been further inflamed by recent drugs raids against the South East Antrim Ulster Defence Association, a criminal gang with ties to unionist paramilitaries, and the arrest of some of its members.
Police have struggled to contain disturbances in recent days. Rioters threw petrol bombs and bricks in what law enforcement described as an “orchestrated attack” against officers. Twenty-seven officers were injured in riots in Belfast and Derry on Friday night, and five were hurt in Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey on Sunday.
Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Superintendent Davy Beck urged community leaders to help stop the violence, adding that he believed “a group of disaffected criminal gangs” was behind the attacks on officers. Police said rioters were mostly young people, including minors as young as 12, who were influenced by “criminal elements.”
MP and spokesperson for the Democratic Unionist Party Gregory Campbell also appealed for peace. “Rioting and injuring rank and file officers will only result in young people being criminalized,” he said on Sunday.
“Stop this now, before lives are lost,” Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister Naomi Long tweeted.
Easter Sunday is a celebration of the Christian gospel of love triumphant over hate, hope over despair, reconciliation over brokenness.The images from across Northern Ireland today instead are of property destroyed, lives endangered.Stop this now, before lives are lost. pic.twitter.com/hjZWuOEJIK
— Naomi Long MLA (@naomi_long) April 4, 2021
Northern Ireland was a highly contentious issue during the Brexit vote and the subsequent talks with the EU. The tensions risk compromising the key elements of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended the decades of violence in the region between the nationalists, who seek a union with the Republic of Ireland and are mostly Catholic, and the unionists, who support British rule and are mostly Protestant.
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