Belfast City Council clean-up following anti-internment bonfire disorder

Workers from Belfast City Council were deployed in the Divis and Markets areas of Belfast yesterday to clear up the debris from Monday night's disorder. Picture by David Young, PA Wire

A CLEAN-UP operation took place in Belfast yesterday following widespread disorder in the south and west of the city on Monday evening.

The trouble began in the Markets area in the afternoon following the removal of wood from an anti-internment bonfire in an early-morning operation by council-hired contractors.

A number of cars were destroyed when they were set alight by masked youths and PSNI officers came under attack with bricks, bottles and petrol bombs when they tried to diffuse the situation.

Disorder later spread to the Divis area of the Falls Road in west Belfast, were material was also removed from a bonfire in a dawn operation by workers supported by riot police.

In the ensuing trouble, which continued late into the night, a derelict Credit Union building was gutted by a deliberate blaze.

Workers from Belfast City Council were deployed at both sites yesterday to clear up the debris from the previous night's trouble.

The PSNI said no arrests relating to the disorder have been made, however patrols in the affected areas would be increased.

One officer sustained minor injuries in the disturbances and a total of three cars were destroyed, while five others were damaged.

RETRANSMITTED CHANGING LOCATION FROM MARKETS AREA TO DIVIS AREA Cleaning up begins in the Divis area of Belfast, where Police have been attacked and cars torched by masked youths apparently angered by the removal of wood from the site of a nationalist bonfire in Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 8, 2017. The disturbances, close to the city centre, saw officers targeted with petrol bombs, bricks and bottles while a number of cars were totally destroyed. See PA story ULSTER Markets. Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire

In the Markets area, the shells of several burnt-out cars could be seen on Stewart Street and Friendly Street. The damaged vehicles are believed to have been owned by city-centre workers.

Yesterday, however, early-morning commuters were not perturbed by the previous night's disorder and continued to park their cars in the area before walking to work nearby.

Last week, Belfast City Council voted in favour of a Sinn Féin motion to allow council officers and contractors to remove materials from bonfires where it was deemed necessary.

The vote followed a contentious run-up to the Eleventh Night celebrations, during which several bonfires damaged nearby buildings.

Yesterday it also emerged that, during Monday night’s disorder in the Markets area, a car owned by the son of former DUP MLA Jonathan Craig was burnt out.

Mr Craig blamed Sinn Féin for attempting to "antagonise loyalists around bonfires" in the run-up to the marching season, stoking tensions which in turned fuelled the trouble in the predominantly nationalist areas in Belfast on Monday.

"What [Sinn Féin] didn't realise was that in less than a month later it was going to impact on themselves and we are seeing the consequences of this," he added.

PSNI superintendent Andrea McMullan said they are working to identify those involved in Monday's trouble.

"Police will not tolerate such wanton violence and, as they did yesterday, will deploy the necessary resources to detect and deter those responsible," she said.

"Where this is not practicable at the time, they will seek to gather evidence to bring those responsible before the courts. There will be consequences for those choosing to engage in this type of behaviour.

"I would again urge parents within these areas to monitor the activities of their children. Know where they are. Know what they’re doing.

"We saw footage of children, some as young as 12 years old on the streets yesterday attacking police and targeting parked vehicles."

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