North: Teenagers arrested as number of PSNI officers injured in unrest reaches 88
Loyalist protests postponed until after ‘the period of mourning’ for Duke of Edinburgh
Members of the PSNI in the Tigers Bay area of north Belfast on Friday evening. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Three teenagers were arrested on Friday night following further disorder in the Tigers Bay and North Queen Street areas of Belfast, according to the PSNI.
The three male teenagers, all aged 14 years old, were arrested during the disorder and have all been released pending further enquiries.
A further 14 officers were injured during the disorder at North Queen Street in Belfast, bringing the total number of officers injured during the recent unrest to 88. One officer was knocked unconscious and required hospital treatment, according to the PSNI, on Friday night.
In a statement, the PSNI said that during the disorder, which started shortly before 5pm, petrol bombs and masonry were thrown at police.
A car was hijacked on North Queen Street, set on fire and pushed into police lines.
There was a heavy police presence in the area overnight, with reports that stones were also thrown at officers in the nearby, nationalist area New Lodge.
Chief Inspector Darren Fox said: “These were disgraceful scenes, which lasted until approximately 1am, that unfolded on the streets of our city last night. This was reckless and dangerous criminal behaviour, which resulted in a number of our officers sustaining injury.
“Again, we reiterate our message that this shameful and senseless behaviour is achieving nothing other than wrecking local communities. Residents in these areas, or indeed anywhere, do not want or deserve to experience the fear many of them will have felt in recent nights.
“I am appealing to all those with influence to help bring this violence to an end and, to parents, guardians and community leaders, we ask that you use your influence to ensure we do not see a repeat of such disorder.
“The community can be reassured we will continue to work to keep people safe, and an investigation is underway and evidence gathered will now be reviewed and those identified will face the full rigour of the law.”
Earlier on Saturday, loyalists urged their communities to desist from protest activity as a mark of respect for the Duke of Edinburgh, who died on Friday, as leaders fear chaos will continue over the weekend.
There were reports of a road blocked off with a barricade on Friday evening which was then set alight in Coleraine, Derry.
The PSNI said the disorder occurred in the Atlantic Road area of the town, where a crowd of approximately 40 people gathered and attempted to block the road with pallets set on fire.
PSNI officers came under attack by petrol bombs, masonry and other missiles.
North area commander, Chief Superintendent Davy Beck said: “I want to make a direct appeal to parents, guardians and community leaders to use their influence to ensure we do not see a repeat of such ugly scenes. This is not wanted by anyone and does not represent the local community who we know just want to live in peace.
Local SDLP MLA Cara Hunter said: “The last thing people in this community want is further disruption. I understand that tensions are running high but resorting to this kind of behaviour only damages local people and services.
“The crowd burning refuse, blocking roads and intimidating people in this community needs to stop. They need to go home and let people get on with their lives.
“This is a time for calm. Things don’t need to escalate. Young people don’t need to end up with criminal convictions. I’m appealing for everyone to exercise their influence to reduce tensions in our community.”
Loyalist leaders had urged the community not to participate in protests on Friday after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.
Signs posted in Lanark Way, the scene of much of the unrest of recent days, read: “We would ask all PUL [Protestant, Unionist, Loyalist] protests are postponed as a mark of respect to the Queen and the Royal Family.
“The continued opposition to the NI protocol and all other injustices against the PUL community will take place again after the period of mourning.”
Earlier, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill voiced her concern that the violence of recent days will continue throughout the weekend.
The Sinn Féin vice-president said: “I’m worried about the weekend ahead. We all need to be very careful and very consciously try to do all we can to prevent this happening.
“I hope and I urge all young people to not engage, do not allow yourself to be used or manipulated in any sort of way, and to stay off the streets, stay home and stay safe.”
She added: “I think there’s a strong role here for the two governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. I made that point to (Secretary of State) Brandon Lewis this morning.
“It’s really, really important that we stand shoulder to shoulder and say no to this type of criminal behaviour, and that we don’t allow our children to be sucked in by criminal gangs who are orchestrating some of what we see on our streets.”–PA