The worst violence happened in the loyalist Tiger’s Bay in north Belfast and petrol bombs were also thrown in the nearby nationalist New Lodge.
Fourteen police officers have been injured during another night of “disgraceful” rioting in Belfast. It was the 12th night of disorder in recent days, during which time a total of 88 police officers have been hurt. Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin has warned against a “spiral back” to violence in Northern Ireland. (Photo: Northern Ireland riots as Tramlink bus burnt in Belfast).
On Saturday, the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, he urged political leaders to “step forward and play our part and ensure that this cannot happen”. The taoiseach said the “most visible success” of the peace deal had been that a “whole generation of young people have grown up not knowing or experiencing the violence that accompanied the Troubles”.
Mr Martin added: “We owe it to the agreement generation… not to spiral back to that dark place of sectarian murders and political discord.” Three 14-year-old boys were arrested during the disorder on Friday and have been released pending further inquiries. There was also three hours of “senseless” trouble in Coleraine, County Londonderry, which police said had left people in a residential area “petrified in their homes”.
Analysis: Kevin Sharkey, BBC Newsline reporter
The death of the Duke of Edinburgh and the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement provided a backdrop to the latest rioting in Northern Ireland. Even though many loyalist protests arranged for Friday evening were cancelled as a mark of respect for Prince Philip, dozens of loyalist and nationalist youths engaged in violence.
The loyalist Tiger’s Bay and the nationalist New Lodge communities live side by side. During the violence the police created a buffer zone to keep the mobs apart – when they couldn’t attack each other they attacked the police. On Saturday morning, the 23rd anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the streets of north Belfast were scarred by the violence of the night before. There was sustained rioting against the police in Tiger’s Bay for several hours on Friday. Police were attacked with petrol bombs, stones and other missiles and two officers were seen being helped back to their vehicles after being injured. A burning car was rammed against a police Land Rover and bins were also set alight.
Officers were attacked in New Lodge early in the evening but there was a long lull before the attacks on police lines intensified at about 23:00 BST. “This was reckless and dangerous criminal behaviour,” said Ch Inspector Darren Fox who added that 14 officers had been injured. Most of the injuries were minor although one officer was knocked unconscious and required hospital treatment. Evidence was being gathered and “those identified will face the full rigour of the law”, said Chief Inspector Fox. The previous evening police in Belfast deployed water cannon for the first time in six years after coming under attack.
‘Prevent These Ugly Scenes’In Coleraine, about 40 people, many of them masked teenagers, build a roadblock and set it on fire. Petrol bombs were thrown at police and some of their vehicles were damaged but no officers were hurt. The Police Service of Northern Ireland appealed to “parents, guardians and community leaders to use their influence” to prevent a repeat of “such ugly scenes”.
Caoimhe Archibald, a Sinn Féin assembly member (MLA) for the East Londonderry constituency, said: “There is no place for this destructive and senseless behaviour.” SDLP MLA Cara Hunter said the “reckless violence” did not “reflect the warm and welcoming people of Coleraine”. Independent unionist MLA and former Stormont justice minister Claire Sugden said the violence in Coleraine had been “nothing more than anti-social behaviour and attention-seeking – which is sad in itself”.
Courtesy of The Organizer