Belfast protesters hurl petrol bombs in night of ‘disorder’

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Saturday saw a second consecutive night of disturbances in the North during which 30 petrol bombs were thrown at police in Belfast.

On Saturday, 30 petrol bombs were thrown at officers in Newtownabbey in what police described as an "orchestrated attack".

Many pro-British unionists fiercely oppose the new trade barriers introduced between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom as part of Britain's departure from the European Union and have warned that their unease could lead to violence.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland called for an end to the violence and said people destroying their own communities was "not the way to protest or vent".

Police said 27 officers were injured, and eight people have been charged, the youngest a boy of 13.

On Friday, there were violent scenes in the Sandy Row area of Belfast as well.

A total of 15 officers were injured in the Sandy Row area of Belfast on Friday when a small local protest developed into a riot.

An eighth person arrested in connection with the unrest on Friday night, a man aged 19, has been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

The three teenagers, aged 17, 14 and 13, will appear at Belfast Youth Court on the same date.

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District commander, Chief Superintendent Simon Walls, said officers had suffered burns, head and leg injuries after being subjected to "a sustained attack" by rioters throwing heavy masonry, metal rods, fireworks and manhole covers.

"To those in our community with influence, I would urge you to use that influence so we do not see any further disgraceful scenes of violence on our streets so we can ensure young people do not get caught up in criminality and that they are kept safe and away from harm".

Britain's economic split from the European Union at the end of 2020 has shaken the delicate political balance in Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom where some people identify as British and some as Irish.

In addition, the decision made by the Public Prosecutor Service last week not to press charges against 24 Sinn Féin politicians who breached COVID-19 restrictions by attending the funeral of former republican Bobby Storey in July 2020 has caused further anger among loyalist communities. A 47-year-old man was arrested and remains in custody.

The DUP leader said: "I know that many of our young people are hugely frustrated by the events of this last week but causing injury to police officers will not make things better".

A auto burns after it was hijacked by loyalists at the Cloughfern roundabout in Belfast on Saturday.

'I appeal to our young people not to get drawn into disorder which will lead to them having criminal convictions and blighting their lives.

Violence is never the answer.

All the main unionist parties have demanded the resignation of Northern Ireland's police chief over the controversy, claiming he has lost the confidence of their community.

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