Taoiseach and Prime Minister discuss 'concerning developments' in NI

Taoiseach and Prime Minister discuss 'concerning developments' in NI

James Cox

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and British Prime Minister have discussed the “concerning developments” in Northern Ireland.

A statement from the Taoiseach's office read: “The Taoiseach and Prime Minister Johnson spoke this afternoon about the concerning developments in Northern Ireland over the last number of days.

“Stressing that violence is unacceptable, they called for calm. The way forward is through dialogue and working the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.

“They agreed that the two Governments would continue to stay in contact.”

A car drives past the wreckage of a Translink Metrobus on fire on the Shankill Road in Belfast during further unrest. Picture date: Wednesday April 7, 2021.

The violence in Northern Ireland is unfolding at a time of increasing rancour in the political sphere amid tensions over Brexit’s Irish Sea trade border and the fallout from the police’s handling of a republican funeral that took place during pandemic restrictions last year.

PSNI assistant chief constable Jonathan Roberts said 55 police officers have been injured across several nights of disorder in Northern Ireland.

In the latest scenes on Wednesday night at the Lanark Way peace wall gates in west Belfast, several hundred people gathered on each side from 5pm which escalated to “significant disorder”.

Graffiti on a wall in Eccles Street in Shankill in Belfast during further unrest. Picture date: Wednesday April 7, 2021.

Mr Roberts said multiple petrol bombs and missiles, including fireworks and heavy masonry, were thrown and it is “clear there was a degree of organisation” of the violence.

“We saw young people participating in serious disorder and committing serious criminal offences, and they were supported and encouraged, and the actions were orchestrated by adults at certain times,” he said.

“It’s early to indicate whether or not any proscribed organisations were involved but it is our assessment that is a likely situation.

“We have seen scenes last night of a new generation of young people who have been exposed to scenes that I’m sure we all thought were in generations gone by, and I would encourage anybody in a position of leadership – political representatives, community representatives, parents – take an interest in what young people are doing and to have a united message to prevent further scenes like we witnessed last night.”

People gather by the the Peace Gates in Lanark Way, Belfast, during further unrest in Belfast. Picture date: Wednesday April 7, 2021.

Mr Roberts said two adults have been arrested following the incidents in Belfast and further arrests will be made in the coming days and weeks.

Additional reporting from Press Associatio

 

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