Conflicts & War

Political leaders appeal for calm as Northern Ireland riots continue

Dublin, Apr 9 (EFE).- The leader of Northern Irish party Sinn Fein appealed for calm on Friday following another night of riots and disturbances in Belfast.

Speaking to Irish public radio RTE, Mary Lou McDonald said: “Now is a time for leadership among unionists and loyalism (…) violence is not the answer for anyone, this is disastrous for communities and young people”.

Police used water cannons on Thursday night for the first time in six years to push back rioters on both sides of a barrier that separates a pro-British loyalist area from a nationalist area in the west of the city.

The wall divides mostly Protestant loyalists – who are loyal to the British crown and want to keep Northern Ireland part of the United Kingdom – from mainly Catholic nationalists who want to be part of a united Ireland.

Mostly young rioters from both communities targeted police with Molotov cocktails, rocks and fireworks.

Police said nineteen officers were injured in the latest clashes, which have been steadily escalating since 29 March. A total of 74 officers have been injured so far.

Brandon Lewis, the UK’s Northern Ireland secretary, was due to travel to Belfast to speak to political leaders from both communities on Friday. On Thursday, he urged them to refrain from using language that could incite further unrest.

“If you look at the tweets and messages from politicians from all parties – they have put out messages that can be interpreted in a particular way as having a bit of spite to them.

“I don’t think there is any place for that. I think we all have to be very clear about the fact that what politicians here say matters,” he said.

In a statement on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I am deeply concerned by the scenes of violence in Northern Ireland, especially attacks on PSNI who are protecting the public and businesses, attacks on a bus driver and the assault of a journalist. The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality.”

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