PSNI attacked with petrol bombs and masonry in another night of trouble

Loyalist areas in Newtownabbey and Carrickfergus see further disturbances on Sunday night

April 3rd, 2021: Eyewitness footage has captured protesters in Belfast pelting police van with petrol bombs, with one protester having their clothing catch fire after being hit by a petrol bomb. Video: Reuters

 

Children as young as 12 were involved in another night of disorder in the North which saw police attacked with petrol bombs and masonry.

Trouble broke out in predominantly loyalist areas of Derry’s Waterside just after 9pm on Sunday night.

Police said those involved included boys and girls aged from 12 up to 18 years of age.

The city’s Area Commander, Chief Superintendent Darrin Jones, said police officers had been “pelted with petrol bombs and masonry in the Dungiven Road area, where pallets were placed on the road and set alight.

“This saw the main road closed for a time, causing disruption for local drivers.”

He said no police officers had been injured but reiterated the police’s “disappointment that we had another night of senseless and reckless criminal behaviour that achieves nothing but cause damage to the community”.

“It is also shocking that some of those involved in last night’s disorder were children,” he said.

“It is totally unacceptable, and it is crucial we send out a message to those responsible that such behaviour cannot be tolerated.”

Chief Supt Jones appealed to people in the community with influence “to use that influence so we do not see any further disgraceful scenes of violence on our streets and ensure young people do not get caught up in criminality and that they are kept safe and away from harm.”

Meanwhile, petrol bombs and bricks were thrown at officers in loyalist areas in Newtownabbey and Carrickfergus, Co Antrim on Sunday night.

It was the second night in a row that trouble broke out at the Cloughfern roundabout in Newtownabbey on the outskirts of Belfast, although the violence was not as prolonged as it was on Saturday night.

There was also disorder in the North Road area of nearby Carrickfergus on Sunday night.

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

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

Some 27 police officers were injured on Friday night across Belfast and Derry.

Tensions have soared within the loyalist community in recent months over post-Brexit trading arrangements which have been claimed to have created barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Anger ramped up further last week following a controversial decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Féin politicians for attending a large-scale republican funeral during Covid-19 restrictions.

All the main unionist parties have demanded the resignation of PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne, claiming he has lost the confidence of their community.

Meanwhile, a recent series of drug seizures against the South East Antrim Ulster Defence Association – a renegade faction of the main grouping – have caused further ill-feeling towards police.

The faction is believed to have been behind some of the weekend disturbances.

Earlier on Sunday, the PSNI’s North Area Commander Chief Supt Davy Beck said 30 petrol bombs were thrown at officers and three cars set alight in Newtownabbey on Saturday.

Mr Beck said it was an “orchestrated attack on police”.

“We are living in unprecedented times, dealing with a global pandemic, no one needs the added pressure of disorder in their community,” he said.

“I would appeal to those who are taking to the streets to stop immediately, their actions are causing nothing but harm and distress to the very communities they claim they are representing.”

On Sunday evening the PSNI announced that a 47-year-old man had been charged in connection with rioting and throwing a petrol bomb in Newtownabbey on Saturday.

He is due to appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Monday April 26th.

Seven people had already been charged after the disturbances in the Sandy Row area, with four adults – three men aged 25, 21 and 18 years old, and a woman aged 19 – have been charged with riot.

All four are due to appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on April 30th.

Three teenagers, aged 17, 14 and 13, have also been charged with riot and are due to appear at Belfast Youth Court on April 30th.– Additional reporting PA