Fresh trouble in west Belfast

Fresh trouble in west Belfast

Rebecca Black and David Young, PA

There was an episode of fresh trouble in west Belfast on Monday evening.

Furniture was set on fire in the middle of the Shankill Road close to where a bus was set alight earlier this month.

Police attended to monitor crowds gathered across Lanark Way and the Shankill Road on the loyalist side of the nearby peace line.

Officers came under sporadic attack.

Calm had been restored to the scene by around 9pm however some crowds remained in the area.

Meanwhile, peaceful loyalist protests took in other locations, including in Newtownards, Co Down.

Loyalist protesters during further unrest on Lanark Way in Belfast. Picture date: MondayApril 19, 2021.

Loyalists staged a parade holding an anti-Northern Ireland Protocol banner, and walked from the West Winds area to Newtownards police station.

Earlier the Loyalist Communities Council held a small demonstration outside Irish government offices in Belfast.

Loyalists have vowed to resume protest action against post-Brexit trading arrangements that have created new barriers and bureaucracy on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

They claim the Northern Ireland Protocol has undermined the region’s place within the Union.

It comes after a break of around a week, following a succession of days where violence broke out following a number of loyalist protests across Northern Ireland.

The worst of the trouble came on both sides of the peace wall gates at Lanark Way on Wednesday April 7th and Thursday April 8th where police used plastic bullets and water cannon against the crowds.

Protests were temporarily paused following the death of Prince Philip.

Loyalist anger at the protocol has been cited as one of the main factors behind the violence that erupted earlier this month.

Another was the decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Féin members for Covid-19 breaches after they attended a mass republican funeral during the pandemic.

There are also more long-standing concerns held by some loyalists that they have missed out on the gains of the peace process in areas such as jobs, investment and housing.

Loyalist protesters during further unrest on Lanark Way in Belfast. Picture date: MondayApril 19, 2021.

Nationalists reject the contentions and insist their communities experience just as many problems with poverty.

The violence was unanimously condemned across the Stormont Assembly after it was recalled from Easter recess for a special meeting on April 8th.

It was also condemned by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Micheál Martin, as well as church leaders.

Labour shadow secretary of state Louise Haigh has called for fresh talks to be called to resolve the issues.

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