World Northern Ireland sees three nights of violence as tensions build
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Violent clashes inerupted over the weekend amid increasing tensions in a region historically plagued with sectarian violence.
Sunday marked a third night of disorder in the cities of Belfast and Derry/Londonderry, where police were targeted with petrol bombs and cars hijacked and set alight.
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The U.K. inflamed tensions with the European Union by reneging on part of their post-Brexit settlement, saying it would unilaterally change trade rules relating to Northern Ireland. © Bloomberg A docking berth at Larne Port in Larne, Northern Ireland, U.K., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned a time may be coming to recognize that Brexit negotiations have failed, as he prepares to travel to Brussels for crisis talks on a future trade deal.
The clashes involved children as young as 12, according to a statement from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
On Saturday night 30 petrol bombs were thrown at police in Newtownabbey, Belfast and three vehicles were hijacked and set on fire, police said, in what they described as an "orchestrated attack."
It followed riots on Friday across both cities following a decision not to prosecute leaders of the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein for allegedly breaking coronavirus restrictions by attending the funeral of a former leading IRA figure during lockdown last year. The decision is being reviewed.
It also comes amid rising anger over a specific part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, called the, which aims to eliminate the need for border controls between Northern Ireland -- which is part of the UK -- and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member.
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Parts of Northern Ireland saw their sixth consecutive night of violence Wednesday as unionists and nationalists clashed with police and each other. © Charles McQuillan/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images Rioters clash at the Peace Gate at the Springfield Road/Lanark Way interface on April 7, 2021 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. 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.
Instead, it creates a de facto border down the Irish Sea as goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain are subject to EU checks -- a move which has angered pro-British Unionists.
Police deemed the escalating violence as "unacceptable" and appealed to residents to help diffuse any local tensions and prevent further incidents.
David Campbell, chairman of the Loyalist Communities Council, recently told CNN that "it's very easy for matters to spiral out of control, that's why it is essential for dialogue to take place... but [if not] for the Covid restrictions there would already have been demonstrations -- I've no doubt the ports would have been blockaded."
Democratic Unionist Party MP Sammy Wilson toldto Northern Ireland: "We're simply saying to tear up the agreement which breaks up the United Kingdom, tear up the agreement which breaks up all the promises you made to the people of Northern Ireland that you would have unfettered access to your biggest market in GB [Great Britain]."
Emergency Stormont meeting after night of violence
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the scenes of disorder in west Belfast "deeply concerned" him.During several hours of rioting police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt.
Speaking about Friday's incident, Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said in a statement: "This evening we have unfortunately seen running skirmishes between young people and the PSNI in the Sandy Row area following a protest that was organised by loyalists against the protocol."
"I appeal to the DUP and political unionism to show leadership, to end their dangerous rhetoric and to ensure there is an urgent de-escalation of tensions," Maskey added.
UK PM's loose talk on Brexit reverberates in N.Ireland .
In the febrile build-up to Britain's Brexit deal with the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there would only be a trade border down the Irish Sea "over my dead body". Northern Irish justice minister Naomi Long, of the centrist Alliance Party, noted that Johnson and Lewis "denied the existence of borders, even as those borders were being erected".A de-facto border does exist, however, and what one minister called Johnson's "fantasy" promises to pro-UK unionists in Northern Ireland are back in contention after the territory was convulsed this month by its worst violence in years.